HELEN Wyman saw her medal hopes disappear after she had been baulked by a crash in the crucial opening stages of the women?s race in the World Cyclo-Cross World Championships at Hooglede-Gits, Belgium, this morning.

After a good start, the British champion lost all momentum when Italian rider Vania Rossi fell in front of her. Although she got going again quickly, the incident led her to miss the decisive front split of eight and she spent the rest of the race chasing. Fifth last year, she eventually finished ninth. Her team mate Gabby Day came in 24th.

Wyman was not the only pre-race favourite to suffer misfortune. Hanka Kupfernagel and Daphny Van Den Brand also suffered falls, both while leading the race. The title eventually went to French rider Maryline Salvetat, who survived the slippery but relatively firm surfaces to lead home American newcomer Katie Compton and her own team mate Laurence Leboucher.

The men?s race this afternoon was equally dramatic with favourites Bart Wellens and Sven Nijs crashing out of the lead on the second lap. Defending champion Erwin Vervecken suffered his share of falls too but came back to the fore in the latter stages to ensure Belgium maintained their seven-year run of World Championship success.

Finishing just behind Vervecken, Jonathan Page rode an almost flawless race to claim America?s third silver medal of the championships while Italy?s Enrico Franzoi took third. Of the British representatives, national champion Phil Dixon came 34th place and Rob Jebb finished three places behind him.


Elite men.- Erwin Vervecken (Belgium) 27km in 1-05-35; 2, Jonathan Page (USA) at 2sec; 3, Enrico Franzoi (Italy) at 16sec.

Women.- Maryline Salvetat (France) 15km in 42-57; 2, Katie Compton (USA) at 1-sec; 3, Laurence Leboucher (France) at 9sec.