British Cycling have nominated 19 athletes to contest the European cyclo-cross championships, to be held in Ipswich on November 3.
The first international cyclo-cross championship to take place in Britain since the world championships were staged in Leeds 20 years ago, the European championship programme comprises races for junior and under-23 men, and elite women.
Britain’s best hopes for podium success are in the women’s race, where Britain has recently dislodged USA from second spot in the world nation rankings behind Holland.
British champion Helen Wyman has twice claimed the European championship bronze medal and has already shown good form in 2012, finishing third at the opening round of the World Cup in Tabor, and second at the second round in Pilzen, both in the Czech Republic..
Hot on her heels and aiming to claim the British number one spot is Nikki Harris, sixth in last season’s world championships, fifth in Tabor and third in Pilzen, closely followed by Gabriella Day who also claimed top ten finishes in the Czech Republic. Joining the three Belgian based riders in the British team will be the rejuvenated Louise Robinson, winner of the opening National Trophy in Abergavenny earlier this month, and up and coming young riders Hannah Payton and Bethany Crumpton.
In Ipswich British women will not only have home advantage – the course will be familiar from last season’s British Championships - but defending champion Daphny van den Brand has now retired, while World number one and Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos has not been nominated by the Dutch Federation. That leaves Wyman as the number one seed among those nominated, and Harris also gridded on the front row.
The main threat is likely to come from Holland’s Sanne van Passen, the winner in Tabor, and Belgium’s Sanne Cant, who just outsprinted Harris for fourth in the same race. Also not to be discounted is multiple world and European champion Hanka Kupfernagel of Germany, who is always a threat when she takes to the line.
Britain has nominated six riders for the junior race: Billy Harding, Jake Womersley, Jack Ravenscroft, Adam King, Matthew Hargroves and Harry Franklin. There are sizeable entries too from Belgium, Italy and the Czech Republic among others, but all eyes will be on the overwhelming favourite Mathieu van der Poel of Holland. ]Since claiming the junior European title last year, van der Poel has been unbeaten in international competition, winning all four junior world cup races last season and the opening round of this campaign in Tabor, eight rounds of the Superprestige, the Dutch championships and the world championships. Belgium’s Quinten Hermans has been his nearest challenger, but he hasn’t managed to catch the flying Dutchman yet.
The under-23 men’s competition should produce the fastest racing of the day and Holland could have the race favourite once again. Champion for the last two years at both European and world level Lars van der Haar, although still eligible by age, has received dispensation to compete at elite level this year, following in the footsteps of Lars Boom and Niels Albert, and won’t be competing at Ipswich.
In his absence, fellow Dutchman Mike Teunissen took victory in the under-23 world cup in Tabor, and Belgium’s Wietse Bosmans in Pilzen. ahead of teammates Wout Van Aert and Michael Vanthourenhout. All four have been nominated for Ipswich. Britain has a seven-strong contingent: British champion Steve James, double Junior British champion and local man Hugo Robinson, Luke Gray, Adam Martin, Ben Sumner, Andrew Hargroves and Jack Clarkson.
The venue is Ipswich’s Chantry Park and the race timetable is:
Junior Men’s Championship: 11:00
Under-23 Men’s Championship 12:30
Elite Women’s Championship 14:00
Admission for spectators is free, although there is a £5 charge for car parking at the venue. The championships form part of a weekend double header, with the best of British riders across all categories set to contest the second round of the National Trophy at the same venue on the following day.
Great Britian squad nominations: