French National Champion Caroline Mani jokingly made a cut-throat gesture to Sue Butler (River City Bicycles) on the start line on Saturday night. Was she really joking however? Mani simply never gave a chance to her competitors at SpookyCross, the finale of the Cross After Dark series.
Mani claimed the holeshot and quickly hit the gas, stretching the field behind her. Though briefly joined by Butler and Emily Thurston at the front, Mani was solo soon thereafter, pushing the gap up every lap.
Behind her, the chase re-shuffled. With four laps to go, Mani had a gap of seven seconds on chase pair of Butler and Devon Gorry (Rambuski Law) with Teal Stetson-Lee (CalGiant/Specialized) closing in. One lap later, three riders were solo at the front, Mani, then Butler and further back Stetson-Lee who had passed Gorry. Mani continued to ride smoothly at front and claimed her first victory this year. Butler held off Stetson-Lee for second.
More photos in the gallery.
Caroline Mani. “I didn’t know, I saw a gap and I’m like okay, now you have to go and I just care about my bike because I only have one bike, so no wheels. If I have a flat, my race is done so you have to (take) care about all but I wanted to win today. I just wanted to do for my sponsors, it’s a good race. ”
“I just tease Sue because last week in Ft Collins, I did the holeshot and there is big prize money and we went together and today I said ‘okay I will kill you again’. It’s good to train for the start because if I want to make the podium at the World Cup, I really need to have a good start, it’s a good race. It’s really awesome to race in the dark.”
Sue Butler (River City Bicycles). “I was right there (after the holeshot). That barrier is weird because you go in fast and on the cornering you have the wrong foot down and then you have to switch to clip out and I botched it and I got over and I couldn’t get into my pedal. Then I had to chase on.”
About Stetson-Lee chasing. “I knew it. I was like ‘come on body, go’. But I just didn’t have enough to stay, I was just working probably a little too hard in the corners. My coach is always saying ‘you’re in too big of a gar coming into the corners’, and I felt that tonight. But you know you’re just racing so fast, you can’t think about everything going that fast.”
About the course. “It is fast and it’s really twisty. One of the things I’m not awesome at and I’m self-admittedly working on it because I’m not a good, fast cornerer because I don’t race on dry, fast courses that often. I have to get better at it because the more I race, it’s really dry, fast courses, I’m working on it but I’m not as smooth as Caroline and it showed because she could keep putting gaps on me on the cornering.”
Teal Stetson-Lee (CalGiant). “Mani has her starts down, she’s a hard one to chase off the line. My start was decent, not exactly as fast as I wanted it to be but I was getting into the right position but what we tripped me up is that I ended up hitting the sandpit really sloppily in my first lap and I set my bike down, I dropped my chain off it. Unfortunately, I did this in Ft Collins too so I’m having chain phobia but it’s just been because of my sloppy riding. Then I hopped back on the bike, I had about nine spots to make up. The thing about Sue and Caroline is that they are just awesome riders so if you’re not with them on the first lap or two, it’s super hard to close gaps. I was working my way up on Sue, the last two laps I kept chipping away at it but I just didn’t have quite enough to get her so she was able to hold the gap, she’s got some experience doing that.”
Top 5 Results
1. Caroline Mani
2. Sue Butler (River City Bicycles)
3. Teal Stetson-Lee (CalGiant/Specialized)
4. Devon Gorry (Rambuski Law)
5. Chloe Forsman (Race Club 11)