by Philip Ingham
Seventeen year old British rider Amira Mellor’s battling ride into 26th place at the Milton Keynes World Cup was just the latest in a string of rides which have marked the 2014-15 cyclocross season as a breakthrough for her.
Back in September, the average UK cyclocross fan could have been forgiven for not recognizing her name as, apart from a bronze medal in the National Junior Women’s Championships last January, she has not been a regular visitor to the podium, despite steady progress through the age categories.
However, all that has now changed. At the last two rounds of the national cyclocross series she has been the leading UK rider and now leads that series by a healthy margin. On top of that, her Milton Keynes ride firmly underlined the fact that, with the established trio of Wyman, Harris and Durrin, all plying their trade overseas, Mellor is now the leading female cyclocross rider based in the UK.
Mellor on Milton Keynes:
A solid pre-race plan, worked out with her coaching team, enabled Mellor to avoid much of the opening lap chaos and lift her well inside the top twenty. On eventually finishing 26th, she admitted to fading in the closing stages: “I slipped back a bit, I don’t have the endurance some of the older girls will have.” But, putting the excellent result aside, like everyone else, she was clearly inspired by the support she received on the day: “Absolutely amazing, the crowd’s incredible.”
“On all the run-ups, when you were tired a thought you couldn’t do it, the crowds lifted you up!”
On the European experience and the future:
Mellor’s club have an enlightened approach to developing their young riders, mixing quality coaching with short racing trips to mainland Europe. This season she has raced the hills and cobbles on the Koppenbergcross, and sands of Zonhoven. Indeed, it looks like it won’t be long before her focus moves beyond the national scene in the UK, to the continent, though she is sensibly wary of interrupting her education: “I’m still at college and can’t to commit to anything.”
However, she does admit that “next year I’m going to try and live out there a bit and get my name known a bit more.”
As a rider who has thus far split her racing commitments between ’cross in the winter and XC Mountain Bike in the summer, her experiences at this winter’s big cyclocross races seem to have made her mind up on one big decision: “I’ve fully decided that I want to be a ’cross rider now!”
That looks like good news for ’cross at a time when younger riders are making a big impact on both the men and women’s scenes.