Shimano LIVE: The Helen Wyman Interview

06/15/2020

Photos by Balint Hamvas / @cyclephotos

 

Sure, Helen Wyman’s results are impressive–a dozen combined British and European cyclocross titles and a pile of cobblestone trophies to name just a few–but her fight for women’s equality remains her most enduring achievement. 

 

What started as an op-ed after the 2012 Cyclocross World Championships quickly turned into a massive petition that changed the way the UCI thought about women’s cyclocross. The UCI named Wyman to the cyclocross commission, where she advocated tirelessly for greater equality in cyclocross. Rules changed, schedules shifted, prize money increased, contracts improved, and live TV coverage started as Elite Women’s racing became a main attraction at race weekends throughout the winter.  

 

Wyman remains philosophical about what she’s helped achieve, and her hopes for the future of women’s cyclocross. 

 

“I would be very happy if in five years’ time, a brand new person had come into the sport, had won their world championship and never knew that we didn’t have equal prize money, that we didn’t have equal races, that we didn’t have equal prize money, that we weren’t immediately before the men’s, that we had all these struggles. I want somebody to not know what I did, basically. Because that means it’s equal.”

 

Helen Wyman
The Velo News op-ed that started Wyman down the path of policy change and action. It denounced an obscure rule that hampered women's participation at the 2012 CX World Championships. It would lead to a petition and ten thousands of letters to the UCI.

                 

Helen Wyman
Wyman starting the cobbled climb at her "home race" Koppenbergcross, just outside Oudenaarde, Belgium. Wyman lived in the small East Flanders city for a good portion professional career.

                

Helen Wyman
At home in the mud, a condition in which Wyman excelled throughout her professional career.

                

Helen Wyman
Wyman remains involved in cyclocross as a coach, mentor and expert commentator for Red Bull's broadcasts of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup series.

                

Helen Wyman
20 Years after Loenhout hosted the first women's UCI cyclocross race, the Belgian town also hosted the first Helen100 race exclusively for junior women. 48 junior women from 12 different countries participated.