After struggling to find her groove over the past few years, former French national cyclocross champion Caroline Mani (Raliegh-Clement) is firing on all cylinders as the 2014-2015 season warms up.
Finishing in the top 10 at every race she’s done this fall, Mani looks to be back on her old form despite suffering a wrist injury in late September.
“I’d been struggling a lot over the past few years, I hadn’t been feeling like my old self on the bike,” Mani said. “Getting adjusted to living and racing in America took a bit longer than I had expected.”
Now that Mani is comfortably settled into her new home and racing a complete North American calendar, she feels that she is ready to get back to where she left off a few years ago.
“I did a lot of base riding this year, but also did a big block of road racing during the summer,” said Mani. “I don’t think I did more training this year than I have done in the past — just different and more structured work, and it’s been working quite well for me.”
With a strong start to the season, Mani’s changes to her off-season training are showing clear progress in the opening weeks of ‘cross season. With a seventh place finish at CrossVegas and podiums at both the Boulder and Madison races, Mani had her best result of 2014, winning Rapha Super Cross in Gloucester, Massachusetts this past weekend.
“Gloucester is a race that I’ve always loved, but really struggled to do well at.” Mani said following her victory. “I hadn’t won a UCI race since 2011, so getting the win there was amazing. I’ve missed winning, I really want to win more!”
Mani’s commanding victory on the second day of Gloucester was more impressive because she did so wearing a cast over her broken left wrist.
“Saturday’s race was really painful for me. My wrist was hurting a lot and I was unable to get a good hold on the bike because of the cast. So it took some time to get used to it, but once I did, I knew I had the legs to fight in the race,” said Mani. “Finishing fourth on Saturday was a great accomplishment, but the pressure was off of me on Sunday. I had better control of my bike, I was able to ride with a bit more confidence, and I had the legs.”
Mani’s wrist injury isn’t anything seriously detrimental to the rest of her season. This is the fourth time she’s broken her wrist, however, this break wasn’t caused by a crash, rather just a poorly healed bone her hand. Mani hopes to be out of a cast in three weeks and back to racing with both hands, not that the cast has slowed her down that much.
Mani will remain on the East coast for the next few weeks, racing at the Providence Cyclocross Festival to start October, where she’ll work to defend her lead in the New England Cyclocross Series. She’ll follow that up with the Ellison Park Cyclocross Festival in Rochester, New York in mid-October.
Looking further down the road, Mani is unsure whether she’ll be racing much in Europe this season saying, “If I’m able to continue winning, then I’ll have a talk with my team managers to consider racing in Europe, but for now I’m focused on the American calendar. Of course, I’ll race the French national championship and the world championships in the winter.”