Wyman second at Valkenburg — European Track Championships — Transfer News — Photo of the Week — More to come…
Wyman second at Valkenburg as Compton scores 100th UCI victory
Valkenburg, which took place on Sunday the 19th, is the first round of the Cyclo Cross World Cup, leaving no doubt that ‘cross season is now officially under way – which means Helen Wyman is once again taking on the best in the world as part of a career that, if only the mainstream media had been paying attention when she won her eight National and two European Championships, would have made her a household name and a national hero by now.
Wyman is well-known for dragster-style starts in which she powers away from the line, but this time it was Pavla Havlikova who was quickest away. Lucie Chainel-Lefevre caught and passed her, then once it was clear that the pair were flagging Wyman was joined by fellow British rider Nikki Harris and Sophie de Boer at the front and by the end of the first lap they’d managed to put a gap between themselves and the rest of the field. Valkenburg is an infamously demanding course with numerous technical sections in addition to several tough climbs; had conditions have been muddier, Wyman’s almost psychic skill of spotting the firmer sections might have permitted her to remain in the lead for the remainder of the race, but with the unseasonably warm and dry weather giving a dry course she wisely let up rather than risk depleting her reserves. Harris and De Boer, respectful of Wyman’s experience, did the same; Ellen van Loy and Belgian National Champion Sanne Cant took over.
Katie Compton, who with Cant and Wyman is one of very few riders able to consistently challenge Marianne Vos (who customarily takes a break at the end of the road season and was thus not racing at Valkenburg), had experienced mechanical difficulties soon after the race got underway and as a result had been forced into an early pit stop, causing her to lose a lot of time – but by the close of the second lap, she’d managed to get back into the main group. Showing off her own skills, she kept moving up whenever she spotted a space and by the end of the third lap she was at the front. Wyman had been keeping a watchful eye on the American’s progress and made sure she was where she needed to be in order to respond when her rival made a push, and they were well ahead of De Boer, Cant and Van Loy going into the fourth lap.
If it had been muddy, Wyman’s technical ability would have given her the upper hand, but she was unable to match Compton’s sheer power. She wasn’t going to hand over the glory without a final fight, though, and dug deep; she was clearly the better athlete in the running sections and even caught Compton briefly before having to admit defeat when she couldn’t hang on on the final climb – Compton finished with an advantage of thirteen seconds, taking her 100th UCI victory. When the rain comes and turns Belgium into the more usual muddy morass, we’ll see some epic battles.
Valkenburg Top Ten British riders italicised
1 Katie Compton 43’50”
2 Helen Wyman +13″
3 Sophie De Boer +25″
4 Ellen Van Loy +38″
5 Elle Anderson +42″
6 Nikki Harris +57″
7 Sanne Cant +1’03″3
8 Pavla Havlikova +1’09 ”
9 Sanne Van Paassen +1’25”
10 Jolien Verschueren +1’32”
30 Hannah Payton +5:52
Three golds for the Brits at the UEC Champs
It seems that if you want to put a wager on a British athlete winning gold these days, your best bet is invariably the British Cycling Women’s Track Team – at any international event they attend, they’re as good as guaranteed to bring home more bullion than Francis Drake. Having won three at the UEC European Track Champions in Guadeloupe, they were the second most successful squad with only Russia managing more.
The first was won in the Team Pursuit when the team (composed of Katie Archibald, Laura Trott, Ciara Horne and Elinor Barker) recorded 4’38.391″ to beat the Russians (Tamara Balabolina, Irina Molicheva, Alexandra Goncharova and Evgeniya Romanyuta) by an impressive 6.973″ – further emphasising their dominance of a sport in which they break records almost every time they put tyres to the boards. Ireland’s Lydia Boylan, Lauren Creamer, Caroline Ryan and Melanie Spath were 8th in the same event.
The next was in the 3km Individual Pursuit, when Archibald beat Germany’s highly talented Mieke Kröger by 2.017″ – Britain’s Jo Rowsell was fifth and Ireland’s Spath was 16th.
Britain’s final gold came at the end of a nail-biting Omnium in which Laura Trott beat Belgium’s Jolien D’hoore by just one point, with 199 to 198 – both riders were well ahead of third-placed Anna Knauer (Germany), who achieved 167 points. Ireland’s Caroline Ryan was 13th with 93 points.
In the Team Sprint, the British squad was seventh with the Russians winning. Elinor Barker was the best-placed Brit in the Points Race, coming 14th behind victor Eugenia Bujak of Poland, while Archibald was 16th. Creamer was 21st, Boylan 22nd.
Shannon McCurley, racing for Ireland, was seventh in the Scratch won by Romanyuta while Boylan was 20th. Horne was the best Brit in 25th place and Barker was last in 25th place.
Katy Marchant managed 11th for Britain in the 500m Time Trial, finishing 1.953″ slower than Anastasia Voynova of Russia’s 34.242. Her compatriot Rosie Blount was 12th, finishing 0.445″ slower.
Voynova also won the Sprint, with Marchant 13th and Blount 18th. Marchant then managed eighth behind German police officer Kristina Vogel in the Keirin, with Blount and McCurley finishing joint 17th.