Report – Women’s World Cup Cyclo-Cross


Sanne Cant – “That was the closest win of my life!” – Gordon Wiseman report from Milton Keynes

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Report – Women’s World Cup Cyclo-Cross

NOTE: Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

Saturday 29 Nov. | PHOTO ALBUM HERE

By the very last pedal stroke, Belgium’s Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) won a pulsating third round of the cyclo-cross World Cup at a more than muddy Milton Keynes this afternoon from Katherine Compton (Trek Factory Racing) with Britain’s Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) taking a well-deserved third place and keeping the home support cheering to the very end.


British champion Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing) had a frustrating ride to finish 8th whilst World Cup leader Sophie De Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team) quickly slipped back through the field, her previously pristine white race strip covered in Glastonbury-style mud, to come home nearly 3 minutes behind the leading pair and out of the lead of the season long competition.

The first few corners proved to be the most dramatic with the riders sprinting off the tarmac start/finish straight into a negative camber, downhill right hand bend onto thick mud, a tricky feature of those opening twists and turns, a start to a race some observers were calling the most technical on the whole of the World Cup circuit.

And so tricky that a crash after only 30 seconds of racing blocked all but the first half dozen or so riders including Wyman.

Even some of the thousands of spectators who lined the whole course were having difficulty keeping on their feet with some slipping under the protective fencing onto the racing line!

Compton was another to be held up in the opening lap crash but she and Wyman soon forced themselves back to the leading trio that, at the end of the opening nine minute lap, comprised of Cant, Harris and the Derby girl’s Telenet-Fidea team mate Ellen Van Loy.

Compton and Cant soon showed why they’ve been two of the top riders in 2014 and, pushing each other through every corner, they soon opened a growing gap between themselves, the chasing Harris and Wyman and the rest of the field.

But from the noise around the track every time the two leading British riders passed the spectators that crowded round the whole of the circuit, you’d think they were leading the race.

As the race moved into the third of five laps of the 2.6km course, the race pattern had Cant and Compton fighting, no holds barred, for an advantage through every corner, running section and up the steps. Even pit stops didn’t seem to separate them such was the expertise of each rider’s support crew.

Harris was now dominating third place, 10-15 seconds behind the leaders confirming that, with her excellent win at last week’s Superprestige round at the Spa Francochamp racing circuit, she’s enjoying excellent form. Throughout the race Nikki was well supported and sometimes protected by Van Loy.

The technical skills being shown by Cant and Compton kept them slowly pulling away from Harris so that, as they started their final lap, the British rider was about 20 seconds off the front.

This certainly was a master class (a mistress class?) of cyclo-cross racing at its very best!

Aware that a single mistake could deny her the race win, Cant could be seen regularly looking over her shoulder, checking and rechecking where her opponent was positioning herself for the next corner but half way round the final lap the Belgian made a slight mistake, possibly gear change problems, giving Compton a lead of 4 or 5 bike lengths, one of the biggest margins between the two for the majority of the race.

As Compton rode onto the start/finish straight it looked like she was going to double her World Cup win score in 2014 but Cant didn’t falter as, head down, she dragged everything left inside her and as the riders were at near touching distance to the finishing line, the younger rider just push down on her pedals that extra bit more to win by now more than half a wheel.

That win, her second World Cup win of the season and 11th overall this year, puts Cant into the lead of the World Cup as the series returns to her home soil just a few days before Xmas.

Simon Burney (race organiser, soon after the Women’s race) – “Right now I’m not thinking about how things have gone as there’s still so much to do. But I’m super happy with the number of people here and the number of positive comments we’ve had from people about the course. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish to a race like that we’ve just seen from the women. If one of them had been a Brit then that would have been the icing on the cake. But we had one on the podium so that’s great.

I’m super happy that people that people have got enthusiastic about it. And to have Sven say he thinks it’s a World Championships course, that’s a real endorsement”.

Sanne Cant – “I saw the finish line but I just wanted to pass that first. I saw Katie and I think she was really tired so I gave it one more push and it was enough. I felt confident in the sprint at the finish even though I was ten metres behind her but she didn’t have a sprint at the end but I had one so… That was the closest win of my life!”


“We need a course like this in the World Cup, it was slippy, it’s technical, it’s heavy but I think it’s really good. I had some little stones in my shoes so that made it a little difficult to get in my pedals.

“The crowds around the course were really amazing. It was like racing in a World Championship in Belgium! Everyone was cheering for everybody so it was really amazing. You could hear your name being called all round the course.”

“I had a good start but needed to get to the front so I didn’t get caught up in other riders crashes. I had the right lines but I just wanted to ride my own race. It’s been a great year for me but there’s still lots to go but I’m happy but I’ve had 11 wins now.”

“I don’t know why things are so good this year, maybe it’s because I’m a little older now, a little bit stronger. I’m also happy because I can now win on this type of parcours as well and not just sand!”


Nikki Harris – “It’s unbelievable, there was support all around the course. I never thought I’d experience in my cyclo-cross career a World Cup race here so that was such an honour to take part. And I’m so happy to have got a podium finish”.

“I kept thinking that maybe the others would tire a bit in front and may be I’d be able to bridge back to them. I was feeling better every single lap but I just couldn’t get to them so I think third was the best I could do in the end”.

“The amount of running really got to you because it was off-camber and my knees were going everywhere so it was hard just to stay upright and not fall over. The start was a bit mental but I just thought ‘take the bottom line’ so I managed to get a really good start and I was into second place and that really helped me to keep my momentum on the first section.”

“I was happy to be at the front so I missed the crash. At the last few races I’ve not had the best of starts so I knew today it was important because otherwise I’d have been stuck in that crash and it would have been difficult to come back from that”.

“Today shows how many people love cycling as a whole and are willing to come out and support cyclists whether it’s ‘cross, road or mountain bikes. I think the British public just get behind it and so I just hope we can have some more World Cups here and maybe a World Championships.”

“This really is a World Championships course. Some of the courses that are part of the World Cup series, they’re not all as technical as here. So for Simon Burney and the whole gang to have made this a spectator friendly course where they can see nearly everything, it’s really an amazing course”.

“There was a lot of mud today but it’s the same for everyone so everyone had mud in their cleats and I had to keep banging my feet on the cranks but it was the same for everybody. It’s just who survives at the end I guess, who crashes the least!”

Roger Hammond (1992 Cyclo-cross Junior World Champion, talking to Velo-UK as riders were still crossing the finishing line – “That wasn’t bad was it, that was mega. I was lucky that I had the Junior World Championships when I did but a race like that was great for ‘cross. First of all we had the track, then we had the road, the Tour de France but now it’s the turn of ‘cross to prosper in Britain. That was just fantastic to see”.

Stefan Wyman (whilst furiously cleaning wife Helen’s bikes to prepare for a late drive to Belgium to race again tomorrow) – “I haven’t spoken to Helen yet so I don’t know how she felt but from what I could see Helen rode pretty strong, it was a good race. But Compton and Cant were clearly a class above everyone else today.”


“There was quite a group behind but Helen had a problem on the first lap that set her back a bit” – the opening lap crash – “but overall 8th is alright. But I know she’ll be pretty disappointed even though she had all the home crowd behind her. You just have to roll with it, onwards and upwards because there’s another race tomorrow so hopefully she can get back in contention there. She’s off to Spain on Monday for a training camp to prepare her form for Xmas and January”.

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