After nine memorable seasons representing Kona Bicycles at the highest level of the cyclocross discipline, Helen Wyman, World Cup star, multi-time European Champion and British Champion, is moving on to a different program beginning in January 2018. The Dr. Seussian phrase, “don’t be sad that it’s over; be happy that it happened” comes to mind, as Helen moves on while still performing and leading the sport at the height of her career. As of this article, she is ranked 9th in the world. And though Helen’s exit makes room for Kona’s commitment to developing future stars, her successful tenure here will leave a hole worth paying homage to – perhaps a hole the likes of which may not be filled again by a Kona racer.
Within the last two decades, Kona’s women’s elite cyclocross program, with multiple World Cup podiums and wins, has been its most successful international race program. Dating back to American Anne Knapp in the early 2000s, building with Canadian Wendy Simms in the mid-2000s, Kona’s international cyclocross success was cemented by Helen and her dominant performances from 2009 to present day. We’ll boast for her here: 67 UCI Pro wins in the last 12 years, 9 British National Championships, 3 European Championships, and a bronze medal from the World Championships! But that’s not all.
Helen departs Kona with more than race results. In addition to committing her young adult life to the athletic craft of cyclocross, Helen has leveraged her success to directly influence the future of the sport at a global level. Since 2013 she has served on the UCI Cyclocross Commission where she has been a prodigious voice for equality in sport, including equal pay for women. Helen’s work has led to the development of a U23 women’s category for the World Championships, increases in prize money for women, and has significantly increased the overall World Cup ranking prize purse for both women and men.
“My goals were to equalize the prize money for elite men and women, develop a U23 women’s category and filter through all those rules to make essential changes for the good of the sport. I also wanted to ensure that all professional ‘cross racers have clear, set pathways to ensure they can carry out their sport at the World Cup level,” said Helen in an interview with Cyclocross Magazine.
Whether it is persisting through the haze of federation policies or the mire of bike racing in winter, Helen is known for her tireless style. The more gnarly the conditions, the more she thrives. Her strengths are in the mud, technical terrain, and the cold. “If I had it my way, ‘cross would start in October and finish in March,” she wrote in her column for Cyclocross Magazine. This is saying something for someone who spends most of the race season in the sunless swards of Belgium. “The queen of mud”, as she has been called, has piloted four iterations of the Major Jake to international fame, from her first win at the prestigious Koppenberg Cross in 2010 (she claimed her fourth win there in 2017), to a bronze medal at the frozen Hoogerheide World Championships in 2014, and many other wins and podium finishes in between.
Thus, far short of the novel that might begin to do justice to her time at Kona, we wish the best to Helen and her future pursuits in the sport. We hope she stays true to her word that she will “continue racing until her legs scream no more,” and that she makes others’ legs scream at the front of the World Cup field. We will be there along with her other fans cheering her on and finding inspiration in her successes in sport and beyond.
Helen, we thank you for your commitment to Kona and your world class representation of the sport for the past decade, and wish you the best.