Cycling Weekly is counting down the top 30 British Riders of the Year thoughout December.
NUMBER 9: HELEN WYMAN
European cyclo-cross champion
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Although Helen Wyman’s run of seven consecutive national cyclo-cross titles was finally ended by Nikki Harris in Yorkshire in January, the rider from St Albans began this winter’s season in more consistent form than ever.
While Marianne Vos, Katie Compton and Sanne Cant continue to lead the way in the biggest international events, Wyman and her compatriot Harris are knocking ever more loudly on the door.
The rivalry between Wyman and Harris, and the fact that two British women are out there competing with, and beating, the best in the world on a weekly basis can only spur them on to greater success.
Wyman would be the last person to suggest that she would have won an eighth national title had it not been for a heavy crash on the third lap. But there can be no doubt that there would have been a thrilling contest between the pair had early misfortune not scuppered her chances.
Riding for the Kona trade team, Wyman has impressed several times this season, notching up a series of wins, including two in the Superprestige series, one in the bpost Bank Trofee and successfully defending her European title, keeping hold of the champion’s blue jersey with yellow stars.
In November, Wyman won the Koppenbergcross for the third time in her career. Because she bases herself in Oudenaarde, this is almost a home fixture for her. The Koppenberg hill is only a short ride away and the cyclo-cross race held there is one of the most prestigious events outside of the World Cups.
She is at home on the steep hill and the cobbles and is the only woman to have won the event more than once.
The Koppenberg event is part of the bpost Bank Trofee, which has an overall classification based on time. After being outsprinted for the win by Sanne Cant at the GP Hasselt round of the series, Wyman took the overall lead from Harris to head Cant by half a minute with five rounds remaining.
Wyman’s biggest win of the season so far was when she repeated her 2012 European Championship victory by winning at Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. Wyman defeated her compatriot Harris by more than a minute, with the rest of the field trailing behind her.
However, major success in the World Cup and World Championships continues to be elusive but, with her level of consistency, it’s difficult to imagine Wyman won’t make a breakthrough at some point.
The World Championships will be held in Hoogerheide in the Netherlands at the start of February. That’s Marianne Vos’s home turf, but Wyman (and Harris) offer hope of the best British result at the cyclo-cross Worlds since Louise Robinson won a silver medal in 2000.
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