Catching Up with Helen Wyman: Worlds, Women’s Racing, and Her Season
by Paul Burgoine
Helen finished second to Sanne Cant in the final Superprestige race of the season in Middelkerke, and Paul Burgoine was there to ask her about the race and her season as a whole.
PAUL BURGOINE: How did the race go?
HELEN WYMAN: It was good. I’m a bit tired now – I’ve done a lot of racing and traveling so it does catch up with you eventually but yeah… The sand section was where the race was won and lost, which seemed ridiculous, because it was such a short section and every time I rode it I either got a gap or caught back up to Sanne, and the one time I didn’t ride it, she rode away from me. I’m happy Sanne rode a good race and came back from a crash to win.
PB: Reflecting on the past season, how do you feel it went?
HW: I’ve had an awesome season, the best ever… European Champion, won Koppenburg Cross again and I’ve won 15 other races and 25 or so podiums. It’s great and I still have four races left.
PB: You are guaranteed second place in the UCI ranking behind Marianne Vos and the Great Britain women’s team will finish top of the rankings, how do you feel about that?
HW: Well, that doesn’t really mean anything for me, being number one nation. It doesn’t mean anything in terms of money or anything, but it’s impressive to know we have achieved that status as a country. It’s not really due to me, it’s Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) and Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) because you have to have three people that count; Nikki has been consistent for quite a few seasons, but this year Gabby has really raised her game so it’s down to her points that we have beat the Dutch.
PB: Do you see any other girls that are emerging from the ranks?
HW: Not currently; there are some junior girls coming through and some youth riders that will be becoming elite just for the fact that they are turning seventeen, so some of them could be good. I’m afraid I don’t know too much about the English scene, but a lot of girls came out here for races this year, so that’s good to see them leaving England and gaining valuable experience.
PB: How do you feel about the rise of interest of ’cross in the USA, and do you think they could host a World Cup event?
HW: They could easily do a World Cup. They have already proved they can put on a top event and with great success; everyone who raced there in Louisville said it was one of the most awesome races in terms of spectators. They said the whole crowd cheered for them. The crowds were amazing and I have never had so many people cheer for me the entire way around a race, and Marianne Vos said the same. So it’s not just me they were cheering for, just because I race there; they were cheering for everybody the whole way ‘round. It was a very exciting race; the atmosphere was outstanding, the course was fantastic, and they made the correct decision with moving it forward a day because the following day the course was totally flooded. You can’t have a World Championship in America every year but they should definitely be considered in the future and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have a World Cup.
PB: How do you think racing in America could work for the European based riders?
HW: It would have to be at the beginning of the season. You couldn’t race there and then go straight in to a World Cup event in Europe the week after, and I don’t think the end of season would work either, but I think they are looking at their options. The opportunity is there though, the country’s interest in cyclocross is growing and the quality of the riders there is also good. Also, the equality for men and women is in place and that must be a good thing. I think they should be rewarded with a World Cup event for their efforts.
PB: Have you found that there’s equal prize money for men and women in all American ’cross races?
HW: The majority of them do, I think about 90% have equal prize money for the first three places.
PB: I was shocked to see that the Superprestige race didn’t even have the Women’s start list on the website, and made the women race in the morning before the juniors and Under 23’s.
HW: I know the UCI are definitely looking into different options and hopefully that will mean the women’s race not being four hours before the Men’s Elite race so we don’t get anyone watching. In terms of prize money, it’s a slow progress but I’m sure they will get there, and the UCI have to lead the way on this. They need to say this is what you must provide or you can’t have a race.
PB: With the end of the season looming, what are your plans for the summer?
HW: It will be three weeks without a bike, and a holiday, and then I will probably do ten days of racing just for fun, nothing to serious. It’s all about ’cross for me.
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