On Saturday, Helen Wyman achieved Britain’s best result in the World Cyclo-cross Championships since 2000 when she finished third. The 32-year-old and eight-time British National Champion in the discipline yesterday spoke to Cycling Weekly from her Belgium base to reflect on the result.
“My first goal was to get out of the way of everybody else at the start. Yes, there was the potential of ‘blowing up” later on in the race, but avoiding any trouble would keep me in contention come the end. There have been world championships in the past when I’ve had bad luck, but those were often my errors. I wasn’t going to let this chance pass me by.
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“I spoke with Stef before the race, and we both agreed that leading from the front was a positive move. Look what happened to Katie Compton – she got stuck behind an early crash, and couldn’t ride her own race. I saw a chance to accelerate just before the first off-road section, I took it and moved into the lead.
“It was really exciting.”
“I don’t think Marianne [Vos] was too keen to have somebody else at the front, so she chased, and before long she was ahead, and Eva [Lechner] came across too.
“Admittedly I paid for that big initial effort on lap two, which meant the two ahead pulled away from me. However, I was in a battle with Sanne [Cant] for the final podium position. I knew if she was with me at the finish she would outsprint me, and she got to within two seconds of me at one point on the final lap.
“Approaching the finish, I made sure I got my lines perfect, and on the final run-up section just before the final straight, I pushed harder than I have for a long time. There was no way I was going to let her past and take that medal.
“Some people said that had the race have been another lap I could have got second. Yes, I was closing in on Eva come the finish, but 10 seconds is so hard to close down when you’re racing flat out. Two seconds is hard enough!”
“The result sunk in straight away. I knew after Nonmay [the previous weekend’s World Cup round] that I had good form and that the course was good for me, but I didn’t want to overplay my chances when talking about the race publicly. So if I was asked, I said to people that I felt there were 10 people in contention, for example.
“But all along, I knew that if I performed to my best, finishing on the podium was possible. It’s a privilege to have the medal, and it feels like a personal victory to have taken it.
“I took the medal around with me on Sunday, and showed it to anybody I knew! “However, I know that people next year won’t remember who came second or third, and it’s my job to keep pushing.
“I had four goals this season, and I’ve ticked all of them: win the National Championships, European Championships and Koppenberg, and win a medal at the Worlds. I hated not having the British jersey for the end of the 2012/2013 season and the start of the 2013/2014 campaign, so I wanted that back desperately. I’ve got four races left this season – I can wear the British jersey in two of them, and the Euro jersey in the other two.”