Helen Wyman races in first doubleheader of the European Cross season

A weekend doubleheader for the first time in Europe this season. The European Champs on Saturday and then round three of the Superprestige on Sunday in Ruddervorde. They’re both big events, and an opportunity to climb back onto the podium so I was definitely nervously excited for both of them.  Both days women’s races were live on TV in Belgium showing the progress the sport has made over the past two years.  This coverage meant there was 3.72% chance my mum might be watching, and who wouldn’t find added inspiration in this.

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The Europeans is an event I love. I’ve won it twice and wearing the blue kit was always a really proud moment. I wasn’t among the top 3 favourites this season. Defending champion Sanne was big favourite with the courses sandy nature, Havlikova had 8 wins from 10 races this season and Jolien with her dominant victory in Koppenberg topped the bill. But I felt good. I’d had a great weeks training in the Ardennes, certainly no tapering down for the event, but I felt the best I’d felt all season.

So with positive mind, I stretch the elastic on the bottom of my new national team shorts so that I could actually feel my lower limbs, and headed to the start. The start was the best part of my race, it went well, but it was kind of average after that. I was 10 yards off the chase, but still in the game after 2 laps, but it didn’t click together and I had to settle for a result I’m not thrilled about. I won’t dwell on it. Horses and Courses, and I’m not the kind of horse that finds its carrots in the sand.

The exciting part of the European Champs for me was the U23 team; 3 top class women. Beth Crumpton backed up a great first world cup and with a better starting position could have been right in the mix. Hannah and Amira will most probably admit they didn’t have their best day of the season so far, but gained more major championship experience, and with these 3 riders we’ve got a very real chance of being on a World Champs podium over the coming 2 seasons. Hannah has transformed herself over the summer into a real racer who’s using all the experience she gained last season to propel herself up the rankings and results. It’s actually quite inspirational.

Anyway, enough of being nice, over to Ruddervorde. I’ve won this race before and had a few podiums so I know this race is pretty good for me. I started well, and along with Sanne and Ellen we jumped the steps on lap one, giving us a solid lead over the others. A few tiny little errors, cost me the wheel I needed to hang onto, which gave Jolien the chance to pursue me. It shouldn’t have happened, I should have been out of sight and out of mind, so I only have myself to blame for her catching and passing me on the last lap. Frustrated, yes, hugely. That was my chance to get back on the podium. I had some good laps, rode strong, technically pretty solid, so I will move onto to Gavere in very positive mind.

Result – European Championships

1 Sanne CANT 41:12
2 Jolien VERSCHUEREN 41:20
3 Nikki HARRIS 41:26
4 Pavla HAVLIKOVA 41:38
5 Ellen VAN LOY 42:19
6 Thalita DE JONG 42:53
7 Helen WYMAN 43:00
8 Sophie DE BOER 43:19
9 Loes SELS 43:49
10 Martina MIKULASKOVA 44:26

Result – Ruddervorde

1 Sanne CANT 40:38
2 Ellen VAN LOY 41:02
3 Jolien VERSCHUEREN 41:17
4 Helen WYMAN 41:32
5 Maud KAPTHEIJNS 41:43
6 Joyce VANDERBEKEN 42:04
7 Femke VAN DEN DRIESSCHE 42:11
8 Karen VERHESTRAETEN 42:22
9 Alice Maria ARZUFFI 42:40
10 Loes SELS 43:49