Caroline Mani (far left) – Photo Courtesy of Meg McMahon
Raleigh Professional Cycling Team wrote –
When the light turned green, Mani, along with the rest of the front row, went full tilt off the line. By the end of the first lap, Mani found herself comfortably situated in the front group along with World Cup overall winner Sanne Cant, 2016 Hoogerheide World Cup winner Sophie de Boer (the Netherlands) and 2016 Namur World Cup winner and British national champion Nikki Harris.
“On the start line I told myself ‘let’s just do this!,’ said Mani. “I had a good start, went wide around the first tight corner to avoid crashes and I was about top ten after the pits. I was already at the front of the race when in Europe I don’t normally even see the front.”
The four leaders would each take turns leading the race as they distanced themselves from the rest of the field. Typical of her aggressive and animated racing style, Mani would often take control at the head of the group as if to say “if you want the win, you have to take it from me first.”
“I was the one who made the race the first few laps,” said Mani. “They were all focused on Sanne. Everyone thought she’s going to be the one to win so their race was all about her.”
“I tested her and I knew she wasn’t the strongest one,” Mani added. “I dropped her on the road climb and running. I knew I was stronger. I attacked and went away, but it was easy to bring me back on the long road sections.”
Photo Courtesy of Meg McMahon
Unbeknownst to the four leaders, De Jong was quickly making up ground from the back of the field. Just before the start of the fourth and final lap, the Dutch champion reached the lead group. Contact made, she attacked them all on the hardest part of the course creating a small gap to Cant and a further gap to De Boer and Mani.
“Nobody told me anything about De Jong,” Mani said. “I had no information. It may not have changed anything, but if the others had helped me more, maybe she wouldn’t have caught us or she would have caught us later in the last lap and I could have gone with her.”
“But you can tell she was a bit stronger,” added Mani. “She’s one piece on her bike and was just smashing the pedals. She got a gap in no time, but that was the part where I was struggling, where I wasn’t strongest.”
De Jong hit the final run-up with eight seconds on Cant. The Belgian champion had a slight gap on Mani, but Mani’s quick climbing legs would propel her past Cant on the steep run-up just a few hundred meters from the finish line. Mani came off the last fly-over onto the finishing straight alone, flashing a massive smile and screaming “on my god!” as she crossed the finish line 14 seconds behind De Jong and 10 seconds ahead of Cant.
Caroline Mani’s 2015-2016 season highlights:
17 podiums, 4 wins
Back-to-back winner of the USA Cycling Pro CX series
French National Champion
Silver medal at 2016 UCI Cyclocross World Championship
#2 UCI ranking (as of 2 February 2016)
Caroline is equipped with an FSA cockpit (Bars, Stem, Seatpost) an FSA Carbon crankset as well as Vision Wheels.
You can read more about the race and Caroline’s performance HERE