Helen Wyman wins women’s national cyclo-cross championship in Ipswich

by Fergus Muir
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
12:04 PM

Helen Wyman gave a commanding performance in Ipswich to win what was her seventh women’s national cyclo-cross championship – but the first in front of an East Anglian “home” crowd.

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There had been doubts beforehand, as she had been fighting a winter bug and had not ridden her bike for nine days, but Wyman soon escaped from the pretenders to her crown and eventually won by more than a minute.

Ten years ago Helen, now 30, was based in Norfolk and racing for Eastern Region Velo. Her parents, Phil and Val Saunders, still live at Trunch, near North Walsham.

Helen said on the podium that the win felt as good as her first championship, because it was in front of “people who knew me before I was.....” though she could barely utter “famous”.

But famous she is in the European countries where cyclo-cross is a major sport. Ten years ago she was at university. She then completed her professional training and worked two years in the NHS before setting up home in Belgium and racing as a professional at the very top level in a country where the sport is a big as football.

Also racing in the women’s championship were Wymondham riders Imogen and Anna Buick who rode closely together, the second rider able to give a split second’s warning of attacks from behind.

Imogen, 16, finished fifth junior and 15th overall, while Anna was four seconds back in 16th place. Dad Phil Buick was 16th in the 50+ vets and best Norfolk rider.

The crowd in Chantry Park, Ipswich, had an even more local winner in north Suffolk junior Hugo Robinson who took his second successive Junior Championship after keeping his head and calmly fighting off a mid-race challenge from Alex Welburn (Cycle Shack).

The two were together for a lap and Robinson had only five seconds in hand at the finish – just one mistake could have lost the race.

In fact, both the senior and veteran 40-49 championships were settled after “comings together” on corners just before the finish – Ian Field winning the seniors and Mick Bell the Vets.

Best Norfolk senior was Tim Guy (Iceni Velo), who was 39th, and in the 40-49 vets it was Ian Newby (Diss CC, 41st).

Carrying Great Yarmouth CC colours confidently to 25th place in the U14 boys championship was Zak Coleman, for whom the planks – the same ones as the seniors vault – present a considerably stiffer challenge.

Apart from this artificial obstacle, the whole course was ridable, and in the dry, sunny conditions, very fast.

• Many riders in the East Anglian CC 50-mile reliability trial faced a steady 20 minutes climbing into the wind. Yes, this is Norfolk – the gradual ascent is to one of the highest points in the county, near Swanton Novers, and takes that long for most, though no doubt the fast group whipped to the top quicker.

No less than 110 riders took part, setting off in groups of about 12 at five-minute intervals from Horsford.

The route took them to Aylsham, Roughton, Felbrigg, Holt and Briston before returning to Horsford to stretch the walls of the diminutive Church Rooms.

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