Britain’s Nikki Harris took a superb second place at round three of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium on Sunday as Sanne Cant of Belgium took the win and the world cup lead.
Harris started superbly, taking the lead from early front runners Sophie de Boer (Netherlands) and Eva Lechner (Italy) and was leading on lap two before a rear-wheel puncture saw the Briton go agonisingly backwards through the placings.
As Harris suffered, European champion Cant attacked but Harris kept her cool, making her way to the pits for a bike change before battling back through the mud and sand of a chilly Koksijde course.
The 28-year-old Telnet-Fidea rider spent the remainder of the race chasing down Cant but the Belgian wasn’t to be denied, producing a faultless athletic and technical performance, Harris getting to within 12 seconds of Cant at the line as the rain and hail began to come down in earnest.
Second place for Harris propelled her to fifth in the world cup standings, on 80 points to Cant’s 145.
Dam puncture !!!! such a great race, and at last cross conditions!happy to take 2nd given the circumstances. Good legs finally #koksijde— Nikki Harris (@Nikkiharris86) November 22, 2015
Helen Wyman came in sixth, the nine-time British champion continuing her consistent world cup run, the Kona Factory Team rider moving from tenth to seventh overall in the world cup standings.
Great Britain Cycling Team’s Hannah Payton took a fine 20th place, with teammate Amira Mellor 27th and Beth Crumpton 35th.
Hargroves Cycles – Ridley RT’s Ian Field battled through to 24th place in a thrilling elite men’s race won by 39-year-old cyclo-cross legend Sven Nys, who gave home supporters an intriguing battle against world cup leader Wout van Aert, 18 years his junior.
24th at koksijde World Cup. Tough old day out with the mix of mud and sand! Massive GB support out there today, thank you!!— Ian Field (@FieldyCX) November 22, 2015
Earlier Nick Barnes was 37th in the under-23 men’s event won by home rider Eli Iserbyt, while the day started with the junior men’s event, with Ben Turner Great Britain Cycling Team’s best finisher, crossing the line in 28th. Teammates Mark Donovan, Dan Tulett and Calum Fernie were 34th, 36th and 44th respectively.
The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup continues on 19 December in Namur, the second of three back-to-back races in the cyclo-cross heartland of Belgium.