Mani rides to 3rd at Trek CXC Cup
This past weekend at the Trek CXC Cup, the Raleigh-Clement squad toed the line against the strongest riders to ever line up in Waterloo, WI. Along with many of the Europeans, Caroline Mani and Jamey Driscoll sat out the C2 to fine tune for Sunday’s C1. In the women’s race, Mani was on her way to score a C1 win, but a last lap crash pushed her back to third. In a field stacked with heavy hitters from Europe, Driscoll didn’t have the day he wanted but managed to out sprint his two companions for 12th place. Development rider Lance Haidet rode to an 18th place on Saturday’s C2. On Sunday, against a field that was full gas, Haidet finished a solid 19th.
On Sunday, the women’s race started fast on an updated, technical course. In typical Mani style, the French National Champion went straight to the front and set a high pace during the opening laps of the women’s race. The high speed was enough to reduce the front of the race to only six women racing for the podium spots. In the second half of the race, the lead changed three times with Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) claiming victory.
“I had the win set up,” Mani said. “I rode super fast the first two laps. I was setting the pace. I was going for it. On lap three Katie [Compton] (Trek Panache) attacked, and I couldn’t go when she went. She got about 15 seconds but then she broke her chain, so I attacked and dropped everyone else and got about 20 seconds. Then I crashed on the off camber section. I’m not usually the person who makes mistakes, but I went down really heavy. My bike was all messed up – my bars were turned up and my saddle was crooked. I was like a tourist. When Kaitie passed me, I couldn’t follow her because I couldn’t ride fast enough. Then Ellen [Noble] (Aspire Racing) passed me four corners before the finish as I was changing bikes in the pit.”
Despite racing in the heat of the day, the men’s race got off to a fast start as the large contingent of Europeans pushed the pace. After an hour and seven minutes of racing, it was World Champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) who took the top honors outpacing three Telenet-Fidea riders. With a bigger and deeper field than usual and the heat and wind taking its toll, getting to the front and staying there was a challenge.
“It started hard and fast with all the Euros racing,” Driscoll said. “At the start I got caught behind a couple people who went slower in the corners, so I got pushed a little behind. But I still didn’t feel like I had the legs. I wasn’t able to go as hard as the leaders the first two laps. The gaps never got huge until the middle of the race. I really started hurting in the middle, but I was able to recover when things settled down. I ended up in a group of four in the last half of race with Rob Peeters (Crelan-Vastgoedservice), Michael Van Den Ham (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes and Kerry [Werner] (Kona). Rob hit it hard the last lap and got a gap on us. I felt good enough in the sprint to take the other guys.”
“Overall I didn’t feel very good out there,” added Driscoll. “I went without a bottle, and I regretted that later. It may not have changed my result that much. I just didn’t have the punchiness to stick on the Euros’ wheels and get the free ride.”
For the 18-year old, the men’s field in Waterloo was the strongest contingent Haidet had ever lined up against. At most US races, Haidet usually has a third row start, however with the Europeans taking up places in the front rows, Haidet was pushed back to the fourth row. The devo rider was able to make it to the front end of the race, but as the speed and heat took its toll, Haidet fell out of the top 15 against the elite riders. When placed against his piers, he was 2nd both days in the U23 category.
“On Saturday I didn’t have the best start,” Haidet said. “I was back around 25th after the first lap. I made it up to the group of top 15 and rode with them four or five laps and then faded. I crashed on the off camber, bumpy section, but it was quick and painless. It happened just as I was getting dropped so I thought ‘I’m going to rail this and get onto the wheel before the headwind section’. And then I was sprawled all over the course.”
“I felt much better on Sunday,” Haidet added. “With more guys lining up it was even faster. I had a better start and was able to get to the group with [Danny] Summerhill (Maxxis Shimano), Yannick [Eckmann] (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo) and Allen [Krughoff] (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo). We rode together for five or six laps. Once again I fell off the pace but didn’t completely implode like I did on Saturday. I definitely need to improve my fitness.”
As a second year U23, Haidet has never raced against the likes of Van Aert or Jim Aernouts [Telenet-Fidea]. Although he may not have gotten the results he was hoping for, the experience for Haidet was special.
“Riding with them was definitely pretty cool,” Haidet said. “They just seemed faster everywhere, whether it was technical sections or wide open power sections. In the pre-rides I could tell they can handle their bikes pretty darn well.”