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European champion says growth of U.S. ‘cross deserves the reward of worlds

European 'cross champion Helen Wyman says the U.S. deserves to host cyclocross worlds

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With wins including the British cyclocross championships and the European ‘cross championships, Kona-FSA rider Helen Wyman has had a glowing season. She will arrive to the world championships in February on the front row of starters and says it’s high time the U.S. has a chance to face the world’s top ’crossers on home soil.

Unlike many top European racers, Wyman is accustomed to trans-atlantic travel for racing. Currently second in the UCI world rankings, the European champion has spent a substantial portion of her season stateside and is outspoken in her love for a certain American flare when it comes to cyclocross.

She is also a willing advocate for this season’s elite cyclocross world championships in Louisville, Kentucky, at Eva Bandman Park on February 3. In Wyman’s estimation, the growth that the sport has seen as a result of American influence has earned the country the right to host the race.

“I think it’s brilliant,” Wyman told VeloNews. “You guys have done so much for the sport in your country in the last 10 to 15 years and I think it’s a fitting reward for you to showcase what you do and how you do it to the Europeans.”

With that right comes responsibility, and more importantly, opportunity. Wyman sees the potential for cyclocross to continue to explode, and potentially reach a point where red, white and blue dominate international racing, just as Belgium and the Netherlands do now.

“As soon as people like Sven Nys decide to retire, then another country needs to take over, and why not America?” she said.

Wyman guessed that, rather than sharing her opinion that American racers deserve to experience the advantage of having worlds on home turf, most Europeans lament the travel and the luxuries they will miss to start in Louisville.

“But why do the Americans always have to be the ones to do it?” she said. “Just because Europeans invented ‘cross doesn’t mean that they own it.”

Wyman is delighted with how her season has gone thus far, but has high hopes for her own world championship race.

“You never know what happens between now and then, but I definitely see myself (in the top riders),” she said. “I don’t go to the world championships just to say I’ve been to the world championships.”

If she has her wish, by the time the elite women line up in February, Eva Bandman Park will be “just a mud fest. In muddy conditions it’s much harder for (competitors) to beat me.

“I think either way (my performance) will be ok; it’s just that I love mud.”