Helen Wyman believes a podium finish at the cyclo-cross world championships in Belgium is ‘do-able’ after winning the national championships for a record seventh time yesterday (8).
The Kona-FSA rider overcame fears that illness might rule her out of the race to see off the challenge of World Cup rival, Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea Cycling), who took the silver medal, and Annie Last (Milka-Brentjens) who finished third despite the disadvantage of a lowly grid slot.
Wyman has ambitions to wear the national champion’s jersey on the world championship podium, but admits the challenge will be severe when the world’s best riders compete at Koksijde, Belgium on January 29.
“I’m aiming for the top five. A podium would be fantastic. The last place on the podium is do-able. The contenders are really strong, but anything can happen in cyclo-cross,” she said.
“Marianne Vos is pretty much unbeatable at the moment. Katherine Compton is incredibly strong when she gets it all right. She won the US championships by over two minutes, I think. Daphny Van Den Brand is really good on the sand.
“The World Cup is a stepping stone. Even if I don’t ride another round, I’m guaranteed a place on the front row. The next rounds will be about building form for the world championships,” she said.
Speaking to RoadCyclingUK on Friday (5), Wyman vowed to defend her title after previously assessing her chances as only “50/50”. She made her final decision just one day before her championship ride.
“I made the decision on Saturday when I was riding around the course. It was pretty much perfect for me. I thought even sick I could still challenge for the race on Sunday,” she said.
Wyman took an early lead before being passed by World Cup rivals, Gabriella Day (The Chainstay – Renner) and Harris.
“Just before the start and finish lines, Nikki and Gabriella both came past me. It was the right point. I thought, ‘I could sit on here.’ I knew where I was going to attack,” she said.
Last recovered from a poor start to catch Day, before chasing down and catching Harris, who had ridden alone in pursuit of Wyman. Last and Day then went head-to-head for the closing laps, before Harris won the sprint for silver after Last pulled her foot from her pedal.
Hannah Payton (Morvelo-Kenesis) leader of the season-long National Trophy Series, won the junior title.
Victories from Wyman and new senior men’s champion, Ian Field, capped a weekend of success for the housemates, who share accommodation in Belgium.
Wyman said Field’s victory had provided the highlight of her weekend.
“Ian’s lived with us for the last three years and he’s genuinely a really lovely guy. He’s worked so hard for this. He’s determined and trains unbelievably hard. It’s been his dream to do it [to win the national champion’s jersey] and it means so much to him,” she said.
British Cycling National Championships – Women
1 Helen Wyman (Kona-FSA)
2 Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea)
3 Annie Last (Milka-Brentjens)
4 Gabriella Day (The Chainstay–Renner)
5 Louise Robinson (Stourbridge CC)
6 Isla Rowntree (Stourbridge)
7 Hannah Payton (Kinesis Morvelo)
8 Delia Beddis (Vicious Velo)
9 Diane Lee (www.Zepnat.com)
10 Bethany Crumpton (Halesowen A & CC) http://mpora.com/videos/6aSVsdF2w