26 Oct 2016


After a short break from back-to-back racing, French national champion Caroline Mani toed the line with the best in the world at Sunday’s Valkenburg World Cup in the Netherlands. Despite being stuck in traffic off the line, the 29-year old was able to finish a respectable but disappointing seventh place. Reigning world champion Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv) claimed victory with a dominating performance ahead of new world cup leader Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF) and Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank).

From the start, Mani was on the back foot after missing a pedal. Repeated misses put her behind a long line of chasers as the front group of six quickly separated themselves from the rest of the field.  “I’m disappointed,” said Mani. “I’ve been a lot better at my start all year, and the time I need a good start it didn’t happen. It was a race where you had to have a good start because you go into the woods and you are single file. I could see the lead group gapping me, and there was nothing I could do.”

As the lead group of six women hammered on the pedals to solidify their advantage, Mani was able to distance herself from her companions. But it was a lonely ride in no-man’s land.  “At some point I told myself, ‘Ok Caroline, you cannot give up and be frustrated. You have to stay calm and fight.’,” Mani said. “It was hard though because I was by myself and there were six together.”

In the end, Mani was only six seconds behind the last rider from the original group of six. As the race unfolded, the Frenchwoman was making up time on the leaders rather than losing time.   “I think if I had been able to get to the front group I would have been on the podium,” Mani proclaimed. “I think I have the legs and fitness to be on the podium, but today the circumstances didn’t work in my favor. But I’m not that far away from the podium. It is accessible.”

After a fifth place at the opening round of the Telenet UCI World Cup series in Las Vegas and a second place in Iowa City, Mani needed to finish in front of de Boer to take over the world cup leader’s jersey. De Boer’s second place put her in the lead ahead of Mani by 25 points.   “She was really strong today so there are no regrets,” said Mani. “But I wish I could have been there to see where I would have been.”

Up next for Mani is the European Championships in Pont-Château, France on Sunday, October 30.   Lance Haidet, who has also taken a short break from racing, will be back in action with the Pan American Continental Championships in Covington, KY Saturday, October 29 followed by KingsCX on Sunday. Jamey Driscoll will sit out another weekend to stay home with his wife and newborn baby (coming any day now). Unless the baby decides to wait too long to see the light of the world, Driscoll will next line up for the Derby City Cup November 5 and 6. Also our wounded warrior, Laurel Rathbun, has finally received good news from the doctor after four months of waiting for the tide to shift. The damaged nerves in her arm/shoulder are starting to heal slowly allowing the muscles to regain strength!

– Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team

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