Mani fifth, Driscoll 29th at CrossVegas World Cup
Under the lights at the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex, the CrossVegas World Cup showcased the best talent in the world with fast, electrifying racing. In the women’s race French National Champion Caroline Mani took the hole shot and stayed near the front of the 47 minute race to finish fifth, her best ever result in Las Vegas. Dutch woman Sophie de Boer (Veldrijdster KALAS-NNOF) won a three-up sprint to claim the first round of the Telenet UCI World Cup. Jamey Driscoll, 2009 CrossVegas winner, finished 29th in a race that was dominated by the Belgians from start to finish. World Champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan – Vastgoedservice) won World Cup number one in convincing fashion.
Staring down a shortened straightaway from previous years, the women were elbow to elbow, wheel to wheel in the start grid. As soon as the light turned green, Mani shot off the line to lead the peloton through the opening sweeper. Not wanting to do too much too soon, Mani backed off the gas a little to let others take over the pace setting.
“I was leading and panicked a little bit,” said Mani. “I let some people come around, but it was too many. It took me too long to get to a better position. I was struggling on and off and going back and forth.”
As the pace and the difficulty of the course took its toll on the field, Mani found herself chasing the leaders alone before drifting back to regroup with Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport YogaGlo) and Rebecca Fahringer (Amy D. Foundation). The trio of Mani, Miller and Fahringer rode together in fourth through sixth place in the final laps. Although the podium was out of sight, the three women took turns attacking each other all the way to the finish.
“I ended up being by myself but slowed down because I needed help or I was going to blow,” Mani said. “Amanda attacked me in the end, and I couldn’t go. Actually, I tried to drop her first, and I did, but she came back.”
Miller finished several bike lengths ahead of Mani who was able to out distance Fahringer in the finishing straight.
“I’m happy with fifth,” Mani said. “CrossVegas is the worst course for me, so a top five here is good. I think Jingle Cross will be good because there is a lot of climbing.”
After a nail-biting women’s race, the crowd was amped up for a thrilling show from the men. And they didn’t disappoint. The Belgians quickly went to the front and set a blistering pace that left the rest of the field struggling to maintain contact with the front of the race.
“The first lap wasn’t too bad, but everyone was going hard,” said Driscoll. “It was the classic rubbin’s racin’. I did almost go down in the crash in the first sweeper. I was doing all sort of body english very, very close to Jeremy [Powers] (Aspire Racing). After that we started to pedal really hard. My heart went straight into my throat. I was super gassed going as hard as I could.”
The high speed quickly snapped the rubber band, which left Driscoll in no man’s land mid-pack looking for companions.
“There was no looking around and regrouping for me,” explained Driscoll. “I was going as hard as I could to not let the gaps open, but that was difficult. I basically settled into a group midway and was able to recover slightly. That group eventually broke up. I couldn’t go my max and had to ‘work with what I got’.”
Looking ahead to the Iowa City World Cup, Driscoll is optimistic that a different style of course will be more suitable to his strengths.
“I think Jingle Cross will be a little more classic racing,” said Driscoll. “There are pretty big hills, so those will be big efforts. At CrossVegas there’s almost no rest, and that’s another thing that’s really difficult, but Jingle Cross might be a chance to showcase a different kind of fitness. Rather than the raw watts, it’s more about watts per kilo.”
Mani and Driscoll will both race the world cup this Saturday and the C1 on Sunday at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. Lance Haidet, not able to compete in the world cup, will race the C2 Friday evening under the lights and the C1 on Sunday.
All images provided by Meg McMahon.