Nikki Harris benefited from a desperately late mechanical problem suffered by Helen Wyman today to win the national championship in Shrewsbury as Great Britain’s two world class riders in the discipline slugged it out in the Shropshire mud.
Wyman , nine times a national champion having dominated the championships over the past decade, had opened a 20 second gap on her rival after getting clear of Harris towards the end of the opening lap.
But with two laps remaining, Harris – in 2013, the only other woman to win the title since Wyman took her first title in 2006, and runner-up in five of the past six editions – had bridged back, setting up a thrilling finale.
On the final lap, Harris’s chain slipped, allowing Wyman to open up a five second gap and she seemed to be on her way to a tenth win before disaster struck as her front mech jammed with victory in her grasp.
Harris told Britishcycling.org.uk: “I’m so happy it was a close race but I got better every lap and it was one of those courses where I felt stronger throughout the race.
“I had a mechanical and my chain came off so I went flat out through the wooded area to get it back. Luckily she had a problem here which allowed me to win.”
In the men’s race, Liam Killeen, the former Commonwealth mountain bike champion, attacked Ian Field – seeking to emulate Roger Hammond’s record of five consecutive national titles – with around 20 minutes remaining to ride off and clinch the red, white and blue jersey for the first time.
Afterwards, Killeen said: “Field is a class cross rider and I was a bit apprehensive because of the amount of running.
“But it all worked out as on the bike I felt strong. I’m really pleased as it has been a long time coming. The race kind of naturally selected and I just road to the finish once a gap opened up.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.