• 2012/11/03 HELEN WYMAN (GBR) European Champion on home soil!
    • HELEN WYMAN (GBR) European Champion on home soil! HELEN WYMAN (GBR) European Champion on home soil! HELEN WYMAN (GBR) European Champion on home soil!

      Great Britain's Helen Wyman took top honours today at the European Cyclo-Cross Championships on a wet but fast Chantry Park in Ipswich.


      The 31-year-old took the Elite Women’s European title in an enthralling race beating Sanne Van Paassen (Netherlands) in a sprint finish which also saw Great Britain's Nikki Harris take the bronze.

      A fast start on the tarmac road saw the bunch hit the grass at a quick pace and it was Wyman who led the field out of the first turn with Harris, Van Paassen and Gabby Day in close contact. With the pace settling down towards the end of the first lap it would be Day who lost a little pace and began to drop back from the initial early leaders.

      Steady riding by Sanne Cant and Christel Ferrier- Bruneau saw the two ease their way up to fourth and fifth respectively with Day and Lucie Chainel-Lefevre chasing back in sixth and seventh.

      With twenty minutes of the race gone it was Wyman who would start to test her companions and with a powerful push on the pedals Harris started to feel the pain and dropped back but Van Paassen couldn't be dropped and the two would swap places for the remainder of the race.

      The final lap saw the two riders playing the cat and mouse game, Van Paassen at times seeming to virtually stop but Wyman played an experienced hand and with the noisy crowd knowing there could be a British champion at the end of the lap shouted the British girl around the course.

      Coming out of the bottom corner onto the finishing straight the two leaders were wheel to wheel but a dead start favoured Wyman who took the title a wheel ahead of the Dutch girl. Harris crossed the line in third place alone and much to the crowds delight making a Great Britain Gold and Bronze.

      What they said
      “I've had a pretty spectacular week,” said Helen Wyman. “Second in the World Cup, winning at Koppenberg on Thursday and now winning here is pretty exciting. I really wanted to win here today although Koppenberg was my goal and I knew if I had the form there I could carry it on to today.

      “I did feel tired at Koppenberg because of the amount of travelling we had been doing but I did feel pretty fresh today. I knew i could hold my own on this course and Van Paassen was the person to beat, both Nikki and I actually spoke about that and we both agreed that we had to beat her.

      “I rode the race hard and Nikki sat on to keep fresh so she could do some work later on in the race but when I went with her we dropped Nikki, Van Paassen was riding hard then she just seemed to stop to let me take the front but there was no way I was going through when I knew Nikki was just behind us.

      “I tried to attack her a few times but she's the sort of rider you just cannot shift. When we came onto the finishing straight I knew I could beat her because it was an uphill sprint and the crowd were screaming at me to win, I've been waiting my whole career to have a home advantage and finally I get to win and they had to dig out the national anthem.”

      Nikki Harris said: “It would have been nice to be on the top step today but I was on the full limit from the gun. Helen and Sanne were the strongest riders today so I'm happy with third, it was the best I could have got.

      “The course today was fast. I prefer it a bit heavier and more difficult, but today was a flat-out course. I'm happy to be getting decent results now, I had a summer of putting hard work in with the training. I rode Koppenberg the other day and I think I could still feel it in my legs today but a lot of the girls here also rode it so they all must have felt the same, Van Paassen didn't ride it though.