In the wake of her ninth British cyclo-cross title in ten years, Helen Wyman (Kona FFSA Factory Team) now turns her attention to the World Championships on January 31, although she admitted that the Tabor course was not ideally suited to her strengths.
Wyman claimed the bronze medal in Hoogerheide last year after a decade of consistency at the top level, but despite her third place finish in the Tabor World Cup in 2012, she was pragmatic about her prospects in the Czech Republic at the end of the month.
“I’m excited, but it’s not my course this year. Last year was my course, last year was ‘Right, Wyman, this is your chance – if you’re ever going to get a medal at World Championships, this is it,” Wyman said. “This year, it could be my course, I had a podium there in a World Cup so it could be, but equally, if it’s snowy and icy, it’s not something I’m naturally very good at.
“I want to go and get a good result, so anything lower than third will be a disappointment, but equally I haven’t had as strong a season as I had early on last year, so I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m getting stronger every week, and this is the first time I’ve felt good, so that’s promising.”
Nikki Harris was the only woman to deny Wyman a British title since her sequence of victories began in 2006 and the Young Telenet-Fidea rider was once again her biggest rival in Abergavenny on Sunday. After a tight battle on the opening two laps, Wyman eventually drew clear to win by 29 seconds.
“I was trying to play tactical,” Wyman said of their early exchanges. “I know that Nikki’s really strong, and if she gets on a wheel she gets taken away from me and so I knew I had to sit with her and see how I could ride. The first lap we did together, the second lap I went on the front, and then I got a gap on a couple of little bits, and it’s harder for the person behind, so I kept trying to jump at her out of every corner, and I got a gap.”
Wyman will be hopeful that the national title win can add some impetus to a season that has been beset by a string of crashes in November and a bout of illness in late December. “I had a bit of a virus over Christmas time, and struggled a lot, but I got it fixed, and I’m on the way to get better and hopefully I’ll be back for Worlds,” she said.
In a fine blog for Cyclingnews last week, Wyman highlighted the disparity in prize money between men’s and women’s events on the cyclo-cross circuit and she revisited the topic in her post-race comments. As a member of the UCI cyclo-cross commission, Wyman’s is an important voice in the discussion.
“Now’s the time: it’s 2015, and young girls like the [Solent Pirates club members] here today, why should they not be able to make this a career? If I can change things in the next two years on the Commision, then hopefully there’ll be a future for those girls,” she said. “It’s important, and it’s easy, and I’m not asking people to give any more money, I just want it equalised – from the top, the very best, because if you watched the last lap of Zolder [World Cup] it was way more exciting than the entire men’s race!”