Helen reports from Koppenberg

helen descending in sand The past weekend wasn’t exactly my best weekend on the bike so I’ll get that bit out of the way first. At GP Twenty20 Cycles, Koppenberg, I took the lead, crashed with no help from anyone else, and the pain that followed held me back and I wasn’t able to perform at all. A very sad 8th place finish in my hometown race was a big disappointment but I’ll be back. So it was on to Zonhoven, a sandy classic in the East of Belgium.

A bad start followed by getting wiped out by someone on the first corner put me “DFL” by 20 seconds or so at the first pit. That put me in a queue at every bottleneck and sand section so 6th place was all I could salvage, which compounds my disappointment. This weekend is firmly locked in the “to be forgotten” box and all I can say is I know the legs are good ahead of another important weekend.

There was a lot of media attention on GP Twenty20 as it was the first event in Europe to have equal prize money. I’m pretty pleased with what we achieved there, and more importantly so are the sponsors of the event who we have been housing in Oudenaarde in the run up to the race. This was the start of something, and there is no point starting if you aren’t using it as a springboard to other things.

Most importantly, the event was a success and early indications are GP Twenty20 and it equal payout will continue into 2015. So that’s very good news. On top of this we’ve already had discussions and de-briefs about how we can make it even better.

The next step comes in two ways. Firstly, I need to keep pushing for change on the UCI cross commission so that this event isn’t something strange, this needs to become the norm, with the rules and regulations of the sport ensuring there is an equal payout. The second part is getting other organisers to take on the concept. I’ve not heard from any yet, but there was clearly a huge amount of media coverage generated in the run up to this weekends events, and I hope now more organisers will see the benefits.

Any other commercial sponsors wanting to put their name to a major event should also get in touch. I’d love to link sponsors to events and make sure that change happens as quickly as possible.

Next up for me is the European Championships this coming Saturday. I’ve never raced on the course before so not too sure what to expect but I’ll be fighting hard to keep my stars for another years.
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