Berden, Mani headline Raleigh-Clement ’cross team; Duke, others gunning for open slots

Ben Berden, Caroline Mani and Craig Etheridge will gain two new teammates Tuesday in Utah

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Raleigh Bicycles, out of Kent, Washington, will team up with tire manufacturer Clement for the 2012-2013 cyclocross season and the new team is offering a contract to the fastest man and woman at DealerCamp in Utah this week.

Ben Berden and Caroline Mani will headline the new Raleigh-Clement Cyclocross Team. Both riders should be familiar to U.S. fans, as they spent the 2011-12 season in the States, riding for Ops Ale-Clement and SRAM, respectively.

Berden, a former U23 Belgian national cyclocross champion and winner of last year’s Boulder Cup, will represent the team in men’s events. Mani, a two-time French national champion with three top-10 finishes at the world championships, will spearhead the team’s efforts in women’s events.

“Caroline lines up thinking she can win, no matter who’s on the start line,” said Donn Kellogg, manager of the new team and licensee of Clement in the U.S.

Craig Etheridge, out of Seattle, Washington, will be Raleigh-Clement’s man for the single-speed events. Etheridge is the 2010 cycle messenger world champion and last year won six of eight U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross single-speed races.

The team will race aboard Raleigh’s RCX Pro carbon cyclocross frame.

“Obviously we’re excited to partner up with Raleigh,” Kellogg told VeloNews on Monday. “Raleigh [has] made a major commitment to cyclocross.”

The team has two fully supported positions still available and will offer a season-long contract to the top male and female finisher at the Raleigh Midsummer Nights Cyclocross Race on Tuesday July 24. The race takes place at DealerCamp in Deer Valley, Utah, just one day before Kellogg will present team formally to the cyclocross world.

One rider aiming squarely for the win, and the fully supported female spot on the new team, is Nicole Duke. The former rider, who finished second at the national championships in January this year, is a close friend of Berden and Mani, “some of my favorite people on the circuit,” she told VeloNews Monday morning. Duke will not be back with Stu Thorne’s team in 2012-13 after the squad added a marquee men’s rider in Ryan Trebon during the offseason.

The two fully-supported rides, Kellogg says, are for, “someone who’s working hard but doesn’t have the resources that you need for cyclocross.”

The new team will contest CrossVegas, the entirety of the USGP series, the Cross After Dark series, “and many other top events” as part of a stacked U.S. schedule.

Look for the Raleigh-Clement team’s full team presentation at the Raleigh DealerCamp booth on Wednesday, July 25.

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