Mani, Driscoll net top fives and Haidet top 10 at Charm City Cross
Back on the east coast for the UCI Charm City Cross weekend in Baltimore, Raleigh-Clement placed two riders in the top 10 in the wet and soggy conditions for the Saturday C2 race. In the women’s event, French National Champion Caroline Mani struggled to find good legs for the muddy and slick race but managed to ride herself to a respectable fourth place. US National Champion Katie Compton (Trek Panache) showed that she is back to her winning ways as she rode to an easy victory ahead of Helen Wyman (Kona) and Emma White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com).
“I had just one speed,” said Mani. “I wasn’t punchy. I had trouble accelerating. I was just off. In the first two laps, technically I was not good. My bike got caught in the tape. The beginning was sort of a disaster. Finally, I felt better. By the end, I almost rode onto the podium. If there had been a few more corners, I would have caught Emma [White] (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com).”
In the elite men’s race, Lance Haidet, the 18-year old college freshman, had his top result of the season when he stormed through the technical elements to finish eighth. Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) handedly won the opening day ahead of Kerry Werner (Kona) and his teammate Curtis White.
“Saturday was really good,” said Haidet. “I felt really good. The conditions were perfect. It was wet and super slippery but not thick and deep enough to make it slow. You had to have technical skills to not slip and slide all over the place. It was interesting because some guys were doing super well while other guys were crashing, cropping chains. It was a bit of chaos.”
“I feel most comfortable in the more technical stuff,” Haidet continued. “I’m strongest when you’re trying to take corners fast but you’re right on the limit of sliding out because it’s muddy, dusty or gravely.”
Racers woke-up to much kinder conditions on Sunday, albeit not the kind of weather most cyclocross racers pine for. Under sunny skies that dried up the mud from the previous day creating a course that was road racing fast, Mani was consistent in riding to another fourth place in the UCI C1.
“I had a good start on Sunday,” Mani said. “But someone crashed in the start loop and I was caught behind that. I lost the lead group, and I didn’t have the legs to catch them. I rode with Amanda [Miller] (Boulder Cycle Sport/YogaGlo) for awhile. Eventually I was able to ride away from her.”
“Overall, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best weekend,” Mani continued. “Now I need some rest and time to refocus for the next races coming up in Europe.”
Sitting out the C2 on Saturday, Jamey Driscoll finished fifth on a day when he was hoping to have fresh legs.
“I skipped Saturday because I’ve been racing a lot and I wanted to perform better at the C1,” Driscoll said. “I still didn’t have as much as I wanted to have, so that was a bummer.”
“I had an OK start,” explained Driscoll. “We all assumed the race would blow apart much more than it did. There was a group of 10 or 12 that stuck around until two to go – that was surprising. It was super windy so that made the front group race a little more negatively, but I didn’t have the pop to move up far enough when the gaps slowly started opening. I got up to fourth, just a couple seconds off the front group of four, but then [Dan] Timmerman (Stan’s Notubes Elite CX) passed me and he ended up sprinting for the podium.”
Without the technical conditions of the previous day to help him out-maneuver the rest of the field, Haidet was unable to match the high speed in the second half of the race. After riding with the favorites in the first half of the race, Haidet faded to 22nd.
“It was super fast,” Haidet said. “With the wind, it made being in that front group pretty nice rather than being by yourself. I had a pretty good start and was able to ride in the front group in sixth to eighth wheel for a couple laps. Then I had nothing. The legs had completely nothing at all in the second half of the race. I was going backwards quicker than I was going forward. Most likely I went too deep at the start. After five or six weeks of racing it’s time to take a break and ride my bike for more than a one-hour recovery ride.”
After two world cups and five C1/C2 weekends, the Raleigh-Clement squad will return to their respective homes for some rest, recovery and training ahead of the next block of racing. Mani will travel to Europe for the Valkenburg World Cup October 23 and the European Championships October 30, while Haidet will return to racing at the Pan American Championships and Kings CX October 29 and 30. Driscoll, whose wife is expecting their first child in the week leading up to Pan Ams, will mostly likely remain at home until the Derby City Cup November 5 and 6.
All images provided by Meg McMahon.