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'10 is a nice round number' Helen Wyman looks ahead to the British Cyclocross Nationals

Jack Elton-Walters
10 Jan 2018

Helen Wyman has her eye on a 10th National title this weekend. Photos: Kristof Ramon

Helen Wyman has been a consistent feature at the top of British cyclocross for more than a decade but until recently it looked as though a lack of sponsorship might bring her career to a premature close, and at the end of one of her best seasons for years.

With sponsorship now secured, she is able to look ahead and the British striped jersey if the first goal on her horizon.

Wyman took the first of her nine British National Cyclocross Championship titles back in 2006, and now in 2018 she's looking to complete the set of 10.

'I think I’ve got as good a chance as anyone of winning the National Championships,' Wyman told me from her base on the Continent.

'Nikki [Brammeier] is riding really well, I’m riding really strongly, and the British girls are no pushover so it could be anyone’s.'

One of those British riders is Evie Richards, who recently rode away from the world's best to take the win at a World Cup round in Namur, a course that Tom Pidcock described as similar to next month's World Championships.

The mountain biker turned 'cross sensation will be a threat to Wyman at the Nationals in the North East on Sunday 14th January.

'I want the win', Wyman said. 'I didn’t get to race last year for the first time in about 10 years, and that was disappointing, so it’s going to be exciting to be back. 10 is a nice round number.'

This year, British Cycling will be broadcasting the racing from the second day of competition live on its website and Facebook profile.

New sponsors on board

Wyman's repeated podium finishes this season served to highlight the strange situation she found herself in where a lack of sponsorship may have curtailed her ambitions for the next few seasons.

Thanks to a combination of some existing sponsors increasing their commitments and new sponsors, Wyman will continue to ride at the top of the sport.

For 2018, she will be riding under the banner of Xypex-Verge Sport, with other smaller backers involved too.

One of the subsidiary sponsors is popular London cycling cafe Look Mum No Hands. Wyman will attend events at the hub to meet fans and grow the awareness of cyclocross within the cycling community.

'LMNH are going to be a hub for me to come along, do chats and interact with the cycling community, which is cool and exciting,' she said.

Xypex, this season's new lead sponsor is an out-of-industry backer and has got involved thanks to its boss's love of 'cross.

'When we were in Germany at the World Cup, Damien from Xypex, which is a chemical company in the UK which makes a coating for concrete, an out-of-industry sponsor, phoned me and said he wanted in.

'We arranged that really quite quickly: obviously we had to get the kit done, designed and ready for 1st January.

'He came out and watched Koppenberg. He loves ‘cross and wanted to invest in something which can give a return.'

This year, the race bike of choice is supplied by American company KindHuman, which will be clad with tyres from Challenge.

'We also have Bradley Smith, a Moto GP rider. He said he thought it was disgraceful that I didn’t have any sponsors going forward and I couldn’t carry on.

'He said he would help in any way possible and make sure that we were financially secure. He’s helped us a lot with connecting with people.

'He’ll be on the jersey with his race number, 38, and my helmet will be a replica of his.'

The future of British cyclocross

In some of the best form of her career, Wyman won't be looking to retire soon but when that time comes, she'll be leaving a sport in rude health.

Thinking about the state of cyclocross in the UK, Wyman was very upbeat.

'It’s really exciting, Evie Richards is an incredible talent, Tom Pidcock is an incredible talent, Dan and Ben Tulett. Ben won at Koppenberg this year: me, Tom and Ben won three of the four races at Koppenberg this year.

'It’s really exciting to see.'

Despite her positivity about the wealth of young talent on the scene, Wyman has a slight concern about which riders will dedicate themselves to cyclocross in the long term.

'The exciting part for me is that Ben has actually signed for a Belgian team for next year, so as a second year junior he’ll be on a Belgian team. That means he wants to do ‘cross.

'Evie Richards is a mountain biker and she wants to race on her mountain bike, which means she might not always be racing ‘cross.

'It’s a shame because she could be Elite World Champion. But I’m not saying she can’t if she doesn’t only race ‘cross!'

Beyond the names like Pidcock and Richards, who we are already well aware of due to their success, Wyman is looking beyond even those riders for the future of her sport.

'We have a lot of young talent in the UK outside of the very top riders. We have young riders like Anna Kay, Emily Wadsworth, and others, all of these riders are the ones who are winning national trophies in the UK.

'It’s just as exciting to be able to see that because they’re the riders who might stay permanently in the sport and dedicate themselves to cyclocross for the whole time.

'That’s as exciting to see as it is to see Evie winning.'