Raleigh-Clement Cyclocross Team: Derby Mudfund Cup – Louisville, Kentucky
Caroline hits the sand pit. (Photo: Michael Robson)
This weekend, U.S. cyclocross fans turned their attention to Louisville, Kentucky for two of the biggest and best races of the season. Dubbed the Derby City Cup, the venue is well-known to all as the site of last season's World Championships. Just 10 months ago the world came to Louisville and reveled in the mud and snow to crown the top 'crossers. But this weekend it was mainly the North American pros and amateurs who tackled the famous course on the banks of the mighty Ohio River.
The Raleigh-Clement team was in attendance, looking for race wins and valuable UCI points as the season passes the mid-point. The course featured all the signature obstacles, minus the floodwaters that tested organizers last year. Instead, warm sun and blue skies made a blazing fast track that forced tight and tactical racing.
Raleigh-Clement's frenchwoman Caroline Mani bounced back from last weekend's crash to finish a solid 5th place on day one, showing that she's still got a good foundation of fitness and remains a player among the best women when she stays upright ;). World Cup leader Katie Compton took the win.
On the men's side, a strong wind meant that drafting and guile were key to success. November usual brings cold and mud, but clear skies continue making this one of the driest seasons in memory. In fact, most of the Raleigh-Clement squad raced Clement's LAS profile in Louisville, a tread designed for hard pack and fast grass that rarely gets used in the late fall.
At the mid-point of the Men's race, a lead group of nearly a dozen still jockeyed for position, with nobody willing to push too far on their own. Raleigh-Clement riders Ben Berden and Allen Krughoff both rode in the wheels, biding their time and energy. With 3 laps to go, former national champion Ryan Trebon poured on the gas and blew apart the race. He'd eventually get the victory in a two-up sprint against Jeremy Powers, with Berden hanging on for 3rd and Krughoff staying tough for an impressive 7th, his best ever in a UCI category 1 race. Teammate Jamey Driscoll was taking the weekend off.
On day 2, conditions stayed fast and Compton repeated her domination of the women's peloton, easily taking another win. Mani rode to a consistent 8th, just missing the extra gear in her legs she needs to get on the podium. Always outspoken and funny, Mani remarked on facebook, "I'm suck..." Hey, don't stress Caro, we're pulling for you!
For the men, Berden switched up his tactic and drilled it from the start, driving a 4-man break and leaving Powers and Johnson struggling in the chase. Ben rode the technical stuff flawlessly and worked well with his group. But it was Trebon who attacked on the last lap to eek out a small gap. Powers, who'd ridden back into contention late, dangled a couple seconds back with Berden alongside. But a bobble in the final technical turns put Trebon flat footed and Powers and Ben slipped past. At the line it was Powers, Berden, and Summerhill with Trebon 4th and Allen Krughoff again impressive in 8th.
Next weekend the team heads to Iowa for Jingle Cross, a classic November event with 3 days of sometimes muddy and always fun racing in Iowa featuring a cyclocross Grinch and hairball descent of Mt. Crumpet. Stay tuned for our report next Monday!