03 December 2022

GB Women wow the crowds at Milton Keynes World Cup

December 3, 2014

Nikki Harris finished in an impressive 3rd place at the first ever World Cup Cyclo cross race in the UK. The Derbyshire rider thrilled crowds as she powered through the mud, managing to hold off the challenge from her Belgian team-mate.

Photo credit: Paul Burgoine

World cup races are usually held in traditional cyclo cross countries like Belgium, Holland and northern France, so a race in the UK proved very popular with fans. Around 10,000 converged at Campbell Park, Milton Keynes to see their mud-plugging heroes that they only usually see on television.


In an action packed race on a technical course riders constantly changed positions as many slid into barriers, crashed on the various off-camber descents or had problems keeping their muddy shoes in the pedals. According to America’s Katie Compton (below centre), who eventually finished second,

“It was so slippery that you had to be really had to pick the right line and be careful not to pick up speed on any of the corners otherwise you’d be down straight away.

It was like racing in slow motion half of the time!”

Photo credit: Bart Hazen

Britain’s Helen Wyman (above left), a favourite for a podium place was one of the riders particularly affected by the slippery conditions.  After crashing on the second corner she rode back into contention only to fall again later and slip to 8th position.

Harris briefly took the lead early on, but was overtaken by the European Champion Sanne Cant of Belgium, and Compton. These two riders were subsequently locked in a duel, swapping places throughout the second half of the race while Harris battled to chase them down.

“I just kept thinking, ‘keep pushing, keep pushing,’” said the twenty-seven year old. “I thought I could catch Sanne [Cant] and Katie [Compton] towards the end because it was such a heavy-going course that they would slow down. But there were two of them and they were working together and pushing each other whereas there was one of me and it was hard to bridge the gap on my own.”

Photo credit: Bart Hazen

The race was won by Sanne Cant (above right) after a phenomenal sprint to close the 20m gap to Katie Compton pipping her right on the line. “If only the finish line had come a metre sooner!” sighed the American.

Harris was pleased with her result and was thrilled by all the crowds that had turned out. “All the spectators and my fan club were amazing – my parents especially! It was an honour to race here.”


Despite losing out on a podium place Wyman took the time to acknowledge the supporters. “It was goosebumps all the way round. I never imagined I wold have this experience in my home World Cup race,” said the 33-year old.

“It was really an incredible experience. It was so loud, so many people shouting my name. I loved every minute of it. On the run-up, going over the planks you genuinely couldn’t hear yourself think. Thank you to everyone. The spectators make the race exciting for us riders.”

Britain had a strong women’s presence at this world cup. This included Gabby Durrin (19th), Adela Carter (28th), Hannah Payton (31st), Annie Simpson (38th), and juniors Amira Mellor (below) and Ffion James finishing an impressive 26th and 32nd respectively in their first ever world cup.


Seventeen-year old Mellor had only done a couple of lower key cyclo cross races in Belgium, but this race, on a tougher course and racing against the world’s best was a step up for her. “The course was so technical you had to keep your concentration. As soon as I lost concentration I fell off,” said the Yorkshire girl. “On one part of the course you had to run loads and by the end of it your legs were absolutely burning.

when you were feeling tired the crowd would lift you and you would try harder. The crowds were just mind-blowing. Up the run it was so loud my ears were ringing!”

Ffion James, the 16-year old younger sister of track World Team Sprint Champion Becky, was thrilled to have had the chance to race. “It was a lot more technical than National Trophy races – non-stop corners, banks, you’ve always got to be thinking all the time,” said the rider from Abergavenny. “It was so good – amazing. I have never raced in anything like this before. It was like the Olympics!”

Maria David, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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