When Raleigh Bicycles and Clement Cycling joined forces last year to launch the Raleigh-Clement Cyclocross Team, the two companies faced a formidable challenge. The sport is stacked with accomplished teams and decorated riders, and the logistics of the equipment-heavy discipline are daunting. But, with the 2012-13 season nearly complete, the Team can chalk-up its inaugural season to a solid success.
“We are very happy with the season,” said Donn Kellogg, team director of Raleigh-Clement. “The positive response from the fans and the media was phenomenal.”
The uniquely international squad, anchored by veteran cyclocross stars Ben Berden (BEL) and Caroline Mani (FRA), started the season with plenty of buzz and backed it up with consistent results and exposure.
The Team traveled coast-to-coast tackling more than 35 races, including Cross Vegas, the U.S. Gran Prix series, the Cross After Dark series, and many other top events. Berden led the squad with an amazing string of podium performances, including nearly a dozen top-five finishes to start the season. He claimed first place in the Cross After Dark Series, a four-race competition with events in Las Vegas, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles. Berden also secured fourth-place overall in the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross – North America’s top cyclocross race series.
“This was my second full season of racing full-time in the U.S. and I really love it,” said Berden. “The competition was intense every weekend, but I usually had the strength to be in the front group and keep the other riders on their toes. I’ve been racing a long time, and it feels good to still be in the mix.”
Mani’s season started slowly as she juggled full-time work with the demands of racing. But, she soon found the form that has made her a crowd favorite, and highlighted December with a pair of third-place finishes at the ultra-competitive U.S. Gran Prix finals. Mani concluded the season with a fourth-place finish at the French National Championships, bravely overcoming a first-lap crash that put her in the back of the field.
“I’m proud to be part of this new team and racing in the U.S.,” said Mani. “The women’s fields are so strong and the events are first class. I’m planning to return to the U.S. next year and I want to win some races for this team!”
Singlespeed specialist Craig Etheridge (USA) was a familiar presence on the podium, winning 17 races and first overall in the U.S. Gran Prix in the singlespeed class. One of the most entertaining riders on the cyclocross circuit, Etheridge is also a bike messenger in Seattle and two-time winner of the coveted Messenger World Championships.
“I reached a new level this year and built on previous seasons,” said Etheridge. “I’m just so honored to be a part of this team as it grew into a national force on multiple circuits.”
Allen Krughoff (USA) notched his best season to date. The 29-year-old from Boulder, Colo., earned his spot on the Raleigh-Clement Team by finishing as the top privateer at the Raleigh Midsummer Nights CX Race in Utah last July. Krughoff produced a steady string of results, earning top-10 finishes in eight UCI races and a career-best national ranking.
“I learned a lot this year and I’m already looking forward to putting it to use next season,” said Krughoff. “Being in top form every weekend for five months is pretty difficult, but I love the challenge.”
Team co-sponsors played a key role in the Team’s success during their first season. Raleigh-Clement’s drivetrains are supplied by Shimano, brakes by TRP, rims and components compliments of FSA, clothing by Champion Systems, and helmets by Lazer.
The Team looks forward to carrying its success into the 2013-14 season and capitalizing on its spot in the burgeoning cyclocross scene.
“We’re already making plans for next season and we’re excited to build upon our achievements,” said Kellogg.