Pontchateau, France, hosted the European Cyclo-Cross Championships on Sunday (last weekend). Great Britain had 5 riders in the event with 2 women and 3 juniors.
Helen Wyman, Team FBUK, still with the memories of a last lap double puncture in the same event last year when leading going into the final lap, was out to try to better her position of 4th, while Sue Thomas was entering into the unknown in her first cyclo-cross European championships and her first cross race in Europe this season. With the 2 riders exchanging wins in the UK National Trophy Series, expectations were rightfully high.
The course was very fast, with little rain leading up to the event and high winds, the course was very dry. As expected the race was quick from the gun and Helen Wyman, starting on the second row, managed to get into a group of 8 riders which formed during the first lap. There were 2 Dutch riders, 2 German riders and 3 French riders along with Helen in the first group including 3 current or former world champions. Despite most riders attacking during the race, with Helen making a good effort off the front on the 2nd lap, the fast conditions played into the hands of the chasing pack.
With all of the riders staying together until the finish, it was 2004 World Champion, Laurence Leboucher who made her move first with 500 metres to go. She was however swamped by the other riders before the finish with the Dutch duo of Daphne van den Brand and Marianne Vos who contested the final sprint with the 18 year old, Vos, winning her first major Senior title. Helen, having been outnumbered by the other 3 nations represented in the break finished in 8th place.
Helen was very happy with the result and it looks good for the coming rounds of the world cup in Holland and Belgium, where Helen spends most of the year.
Sue Thomas finished an excellent 12th place and was at time lapping faster than the leaders. Having missed the front group on the first lap, it was very hard for Sue to regain contact with them, but finishing only 1 minute 20 seconds down.
In the junior race, Tom Last started in fantastic style taking the lead on the first lap, however by the end of the first lap the race had settled into groups, with Tom taking him place in the second group. Stephen Adams finished in 39th place and David Fletcher in 25th, while Tom raced superbly to finish 13th.
1st Marianne Vos
2nd Daphny Van Den Brand
3rd Hanka Kupfernagel
8th Helen Wyman (GB)
12th Sue Thomas (GB)
1st Robert Gavenda
2nd Yannick Martinez
3rd Dries Govaerts
13th Tom Last (GB)
25th David Fletcher (GB)
39th Stephen Adams (GB)