A spectacular second for Mani at Iowa City World Cup
The Jingle Cross Cyclocross Festival was a jam packed event filled with three days of thrilling racing. The prelude to the main event played out Friday night under the lights at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Iowa City. Not able to race the World Cup, Lance Haidet was the only member of the Raleigh-Clement team to line up for the USAC Pro CX C2. On a brutally hard, muddy course, Haidet finished a disappointing 11th but still enjoyed racing in front of an energetic crowd.
“It wasn’t good,” said Haidet. “I had a lot of back issues in the deep mud. When my back starts hurting, I can’t transfer any power. I’m like an 80-year old man with my back issues.”
“The course was ‘manly’ for sure,” continued Haidet. “It was pretty fun. And the crowds were awesome. The top of the hill was insane.”
On Saturday both Caroline Mani and Jamey Driscoll lined up for the highlight of the weekend, the Iowa City World Cup. In front of a rowdy and enthusiastic crowd of 10,000 people, Mani pounded on the pedals around a course that afforded little rest to ride her way to second place behind US National Champion Katie Compton (Trek-Panache).
After suffering in the heat and muggy conditions for almost 40 minutes, Mani described her result in one word: “exquisite”.
“I’m happy, I’m stoked,” said Mani. “I didn’t win but second place is pretty good.”
“The course was insane between the running, the heavy, tacky mud, the climbing and the downhill,” Mani explained. There was no rest. It was really hard.”
For the second half of the four lap race, Mani rode by herself in second chasing Compton while being chased by “little” Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com).
“I did all that I could to stay close to Katie, but she was really strong,” Mani said. “I really wanted to keep my second place because Antonneau was behind. On the last lap I just wanted to be done. Kaitie was trying hard. After what happened in Madison, I didn’t want to make a mistake again to lose second place.”
Although she was sandwiched between two Americans on the podium, the French National Champion was among friends.
“It was special today because Katie and Kaitie are good friends,” said Mani. “The three of us live in Colorado Springs, so it was a full Colorado Springs podium. We’ve never been on the podium together, but we’ve always said it would be cool. And we did it in America, so it’s unique and special.”
In the men’s race, Driscoll didn’t have the kind of day he was hoping to have in front of a US crowd. After a grueling hour race in the hot and humid conditions on a relentless course, Driscoll crossed the line in a disheartening 34th place.
“The weather was the biggest factor for me, heat wise,” said Driscoll. “It was really hot, really humid. A lot of your max efforts were done at low speeds so there was no cooling. The course was not nearly as heavy as it could have been had they done it on same course (as Friday) but the grass was fairly spongey. In general, it was not a slog or mud bog, which was nice. Even though everyone was muddy, it was from a couple small sections. It was primarily dry conditions out there.”
“I felt really bad,” Driscoll continued. “I was complaining about the heat, but I’m sure it would have been the same result with or without the heat based on how I felt. The form was not there. I was suffering, there’s no doubt about that. I could tell I needed more rest at the top of each hill and couldn’t accelerate or lay down power period like I expect myself to do.”
Despite the result, Driscoll was thrilled to be racing such a huge cyclocross event on American soil.
“The crowds were second to none,” Driscoll exclaimed. “They were super enthusiastic whether you were winning or way back. And that’s awesome, the super energetic American crowds. The numbers were also awesome. More people came out to the race because of how big of a show it was this year. It’s awesome to see that in the US.”
By day three of the event, everyone was pretty spent, but the show continued with the USAC Pro CX C1 race on a slightly modified course from Saturday. Mani, showing she had the form but lacking the mental strength, finished fourth. For both Driscoll and Haidet it was a positive change from their previous performances when they finished 14th and 20th, respectively.
“I was mentally drained from the world cup,” said Mani. “The last 10 days on the road were pretty tough mentally and physically. It’s really hard to refocus after racing hard for a podium at a world cup. Mentally I just didn’t want to do it. But after a couple laps I tried to find the mojo to pull it together and finish harder.”
“I think physically I was there but mentally I was really, really tired,” Mani continued. “You could see both Katie and Kaitie were tired too. It’s different when you go for top 10 or you fight for the win. It really takes a toll on you. I’m happy with fourth.”
“I definitely felt better,” Driscoll said. “I didn’t go in the red as much as I did yesterday knowing that I might have a better race if I just pace myself. I was as far back as the 20’s and wanted to work my way up and essentially not fade like everyone else I caught was doing. It wasn’t as good as I wanted to be, as much gas as I wanted, but considering the racing I’ve been doing, I think it’s good. I felt better. I ended on a better note than yesterday.”
“It was quite a bit better than Friday,” said Haidet. “I felt like I had a lot more power in the legs. I still didn’t’ feel like I could go in the red and recover as quick as I wanted to, but I was definitely able to push it a bit harder. My running felt pretty good. I’m happy with it. I’m steadily improving. Hopefully today is a sign of what’s going to happen.”
Images provided by Meg McMahon.