Back in August, Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing) shared her feelings about cyclocross season in one of her Wyman Wednesday columns. “If I had it my way, ’cross would start in October and finish in March,” she wrote. She continued, “Since I am not a big September cyclocross person, my preparations are focused towards October and November.”
Wyman’s words have proven prophetic, as she is on fine form now that the weather has gotten cooler and the conditions have gotten sloppier. Wyman kicked off November with an impressive win at Koppenbergcross, won in Spain, and has taken second at the two World Cups in Denmark and Germany.
Wyman has also been on the move, traveling thousands of kilometers with her partner and coach Stef. Wyman has raced in at least nine different countries—U.S., Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark—and has wins in four of them.
The British cyclocross nomad took some time to share her thoughts on her second-place finish at Saturday’s World Cup Zeven, not surprisingly, while driving in her van from Zeven to Sunday’s IJsboerke Ladies Trofee race in Hamme, Belgium.
Another Fine Mudder in Germany
Rains during the week in northern Germany guaranteed Saturday’s World Cup Zeven battle would be waged in true Euro ’cross conditions. Mud was everywhere and literal puddles were not uncommon.
Yep Zeven course is still damp!! Excited for a proper mud fest World Cup tomorrow
— Helen Wyman (@CXHelen) November 24, 2017
Needless to say, Wyman loved the conditions. “I loved the mud, it was awesome,” she said. “It was a very traditional ’cross course which is great. One of the great things about ’cross is the variety of courses, and as much as we need fast and technical course, we also need tough grueling ones. No one wants to see the same winner week in and week out.”
Wyman’s comfort with the mud played out in how she raced. The first task was avoiding the mayhem in the first few corners. The course got narrow very quickly, and crashes were not uncommon. “The start wasn’t great for me, but because there were two separate crashes on the two sides of the course in the first corner, it worked out ok,” Wyman said.
After escaping the chaos, she wasted little time getting to the front and then going off the front with Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon) in the second lap. Lurking behind her was her Koppenbergcross nemesis Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight Composites).
Compton eventually caught up with the lead duo and then moved into the second spot ahead of Wyman. Cant attacked in the fourth of five laps when Compton dabbed on a steep uphill and the battle to watch became the duel between Wyman and Compton for second.
The mud and series of ups and downs forced riders to make choices between riding and running. Wyman said her ability to stay on the bike helped her out later in the race.
“I rode more mud sections than Katie and Sanne,” she said. “There was a section before the first uphill that I bike slogged through because it made the hill easier. There Katie had to run the hill because she couldn’t remount quick enough. I think it was about the same riding and running some sections in terms of time, but I felt it was less draining on the legs to ride them. On the last lap, I went for whatever was quickest!”
In the last lap, Wyman surged while Compton flagged. “My last lap was actually my second fastest and my first lap was the fastest of the race, which is a first-ever in a World Cup for me to take fastest lap of the race! I think I had just recovered well enough from a middle lap dip that I could put in a faster lap, which allowed me to come back and beat Katie.”
Wyman’s two blistering laps helped propel her to her second straight World Cup second-place finish.
One noticeable aspect of Saturday’s race was Cant’s winning time was over 51 minutes. Wyman’s first lap was about 10:20, so when the officials displayed four to go while Wyman was in the lead, it was clear there would be no 2016 Jingle Cross-style time controversy.
“I think it’s awesome that we raced for 50 minutes today,” Wyman said. “I totally appreciate that we have U23 riders in the races, but I want a separate U23 race series at World Cups and have tried to get this on the Cyclocross Commission. So in my perfect world, we would have Elite Men and Women race for 50 minutes and u23 Women go for 40 minutes. Oh, and equal World Cup prize money [sic]!”
Today we raced for 51 minutes in the World Cup, nobody died and as far as I'm aware nobody's uterus fell out! Soooo…..shall we make women's cross 50 minutes from now on in??
— Helen Wyman (@CXHelen) November 25, 2017
Look for Wyman to continue her nomadic ways, albeit more concentrated in Belgium and the Netherlands, as the heart of cyclocross season continues into December. Wyman will continue to share her thoughts on her racing and travels in her Wyman Wednesday columns every other week.
Stay tuned for thoughts on Saturday’s World Cup Zeven from Katie Compton and Sunday’s Flandriencross from Ellen Noble.