Nikki Brammeier (née Harris) opened her cyclocross season on the podium in Neerpelt on Saturday and backed up her successful opener with a fifth place finish at SuperPrestige Gieten on Sunday. The British national cyclocross champion has said she’s exactly where she wants to be at this time of the year.
“I’m actually pretty happy,” said Brammeier. “It’s the first weekend of the ‘cross season for me. I have a lot of work to do, but that was always the plan. This weekend was about getting through each race day and getting used to going race speed again. I’m in a good place, and I think with some hard work, I’ll be fighting for first position again.”
Brammeier’s main objective on Saturday was to test the legs at race speed. She came away with the podium.
“My start was better than I expected, and I rode a really clean race,” said Brammeier. “I’ve hardly ridden my ‘cross bike as I mostly been training on the road, so I was really happy that with my technical abilities. I’m surprised that I ended up on the podium. The way that I rode in the second half of the race showed that the road season has improved my endurance. I’m stronger in the second half of the races right now.”
The strong second half trend continued in Geiten on Sunday afternoon. Brammeier was quick off the line, shoulder-to-shoulder with Sanne Cant (Enertherm-Beobank) and De Boer (Kalas-NNOF) in the opening straightaway and third through the hole-shot. By lap three of six, Harris had settled into her own rhythm in fourth place, a rhythm that saw her gaining on de Boer, who was riding in third.
“I didn’t have full gas to go with the leaders, so I decided to conserve my energy at the start to save it for the last few laps,” said Brammeier. “I was closing in on Sophie until I had a problem with my cables and gears with a bit more than a lap and a half still to race. I ended up in my smallest gear and couldn’t change down from there, so that lost me some time.”
“Then I was coming back from that and had a flat tire across the finish line with one lap to go, so I had to pit again,” Brammeier said. “And that was today’s race. Fifth place is alright considering all that.”
Brammeier is back in action next weekend when the Bpost Bank Tofee series opens in Ronse.
“I trained through the weekend this past weekend, and I’ll train through next weekend as well,” said Brammeier. “I think it’s important to do at this time of the season. I can’t take too much rest between the races right now. It’s about putting in the hard work around the races and in the races and hopefully feeling the benefit of that in a few weeks when I will be able to take some rest before a race. For now, I’m going into races tired, but that’s what I’ve planned to do.”