Pro Profile: Helen Wyman

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Words by Christine Vardaros. Photos by Stefan Wyman.

First published in Grit.cx Issue 1: October 2014
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WHO IS HELEN?

Over the last decade, Helen Wyman has steadily made her way up the cyclocross ranks, to eventually land on the podium at last season’s World Championships held in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. While this magnificent feat in itself would make most racers’ seasons, this was just one demonstration of her recently-acquired level of physical prowess. She wielded her mighty gams at both the British and European Championships to take home victories at both events. She also dominated nine additional UCI International events, including the infamous Koppenbergcross – a gnarly event riddled with power climbs and twisty, treacherous descents. Added to that is a collection of 21 additional podium appearances. She is now considered one of the elite few who is capable of instilling fear in all those who dare to line up alongside her.

Wyman comes from a family of cycling enthusiasts, so it is no wonder that she caught the competition bug at age 14. “I started racing everything: time trials, grass track [track bikes with knobby wheels and no motor], criteriums, mountain biking, cyclocross, you name it! I didn’t race my first proper road race, though, until I was 18 years old,” explains Wyman.

The only time she backed off a bit from a heavy racing schedule was when she was finishing up her physiotherapy degree, which included an 18-month rotation afterwards. At the end of this period in 2004, she came back strong to win her first cyclocross National Cup event, and has never missed a cyclocross World Cup since then.

While taking on the cyclocross field in the winter months, Wyman has focused all her ‘offseason’ attention on the road, reaching a very high level where she competed in three World Championship events. After four arduous years of back-to-back season racing, she finally decided to ditch the road to become a cyclocross specialist. In the spirit of her commitment to the sport, Wyman eventually relocated to Belgium and is now giving interviews in Flemish at a level proficient enough to allow her quirky humour to shine through.

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LOOKING AHEAD.

Looking to the 2014-15 season, Wyman has yet again tweaked her offseason preparation. “I have done an extra stage race, the Women’s Tour in UK back in May, earlier than normal in my calendar. It was the UK’s first professional women’s stage race and the support for it was beyond all expectations. Not only did I get a really hard base training in, we had literally tens of thousands of people out watching us every day… pretty special!” In addition, she took part in a few road races, mainly in the UK and one in Belgium, and the Tour of Brittany in July. As for Wyman’s pre-season predictions, she muses: “I haven’t finalized my goals yet but I can only get better and better I guess [chuckles].”

What is certain, though, is her race schedule. Wyman will again kick off her season in the US as she has done the last few years. There she can gain maximum exposure for her long-time, Canadian-based title sponsor Kona Bikes, which has a large US presence. First up is the high profile CrossVegas that coincides with the Interbike bicycle industry trade show. Eventually she will be making her way east back to Europe in early October in time for the BPost Bank Trofee and World Cup series events, which include the first ever UCI World Cup cyclocross race on British soil, held on 29th November in Milton Keynes.

This new British World Cup gives Wyman high hopes for the continued growth of cyclocross in her homeland. She also credits the popular Rapha SuperCross Series that attracts many cycling newcomers. “They also spruce it up with foam pits and stuff like that to give it that extra dimension of entertainment.”

Comparing Belgian ‘cross to the US scene, Wyman gushes: “The atmosphere in American racing is much more relaxed. It’s a really happy place to race. In the few years I’ve raced there I’ve noticed that they’re already doing great things for equality [of the sexes].”

While she is not yet on the gravel racing bandwagon, such events certainly pique her interest as she is halfway there in terms of preparedness. “I know my road bike Kona Redzone is beautiful and can be fitted with 34mm tyres! That’s for gravel racing, right?” When Wyman is not busy riding the bike, she works actively on positive changes – with much success – for women’s cyclocross as a newly appointed member of the UCI Cyclocross Commission.

HELEN WYMAN.

Nationality: British
Date of birth: March 4th 1981 (33 years old)
Place of birth: St Albans, UK
Current residence: Oudenaarde, Belgium
Height: 5ft 9in (175cm)
Weight: 123lbs (56kg)
Team: Kona Factory Racing
Master of jersey rotations, alternating between British & European jersey in the races.

PALMARES:

8 x Elite British Cyclocross National Champion (’06,’07,’08,’09,’10,’11,’12,’14)
2 x Elite European Champion (’13,’14)
2nd overall: current UCI Cyclocross International Ranking
5th overall: Cyclocross World Cup Ranking
3 x Road World Championships Great Britain Team Member (Madrid, Saltzberg and Stuttgart)

2013-14 season:

2nd overall UCI International standings
5th overall UCI World Cup standings
2nd overall in BPost Bank Trofee Series
12 x UCI international wins
13 x additional podium placings
1st British National Championships, Derby, UK
1st European Championships, Mladá Boleslav, CZ
3rd World Championships, Hoogerheide, NL
2nd Nommay World Cup, France.

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