Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) and Nikki Harris (Great Britain) won cyclocross national titles on Sunday in their respective home countries. In Hesperange, Luxembourg, Majerus recovered from a pre-ride crash to win a jaw-dropping twenty-second national champion’s jersey.
In Shrewsbury, Great Britain, Harris did battle with nine-time British cyclocross champion Helen Wyman (Kona) to stand on the top step of the podium. Ten days into the season, and Boels-Dolmans has two wins and two newly crowned national champions.
Majerus proves untouchable in title defence
Christine Majerus sports the Luxembourg national championship jersey across three disciplines – road, individual time trial and cyclocross. Ask the 28-year-old how many national titles she’s won, and she has to count them. She thinks this is title number 22, but she’s not certain that her memory is completely accurate. It’s possible that she’s missing one or two. All of which is to say - it might seem inevitable that when Majerus lines up in pursuit of another national title, she’ll earn it. Yet Majerus insists that nothing is a given.
“People think it’s easy for me to get my titles,” said Majerus following her win on Sunday. “Most of the journalists here act as if it’s done before the race even begins. That’s not how I feel at all.” “It’s still a race – and it’s a race where anything can happen,” Majerus added. “It’s also not very motivating when everyone tells you it’s already done, so I don’t act as if it’s done. I still fight for it and give it 100 percent. Giving only 70 percent is not my nature, and it would be disrespectful for the spectators, organisers and other cyclists.”
Having crashed during her pre-ride, Majerus started her race cautiously. “It was a stupid little crash, but I decided to go carefully in the first five minutes,” Majerus explained. “I started my efforts once I passed that part.” “From there I tried to get full gas uphill and pick up speed following the corners,” Majerus said. “Of course, I also focussed on being consistent over the entire race.” And consistent she was. Majerus led the race from lap one and handily snagged another title.
Harris earns second national title in her Boels-Dolmans debut
Harris was meant to debut her new team colours on the first of the year but illness caused a change in plans – which meant Sunday’s British Cyclocross National championships was the first time Harris raced in her new team kit. Her time in Boels-Dolmans colours proved short-lived. One race in and Harris is swapping the standard team kit for the red, white and blue of British champion. “The last part of the Christmas period didn’t got as I wanted,” admitted Harris. “I had some forced rest with getting sick. Last week, I went to Girona for a few good days of resting and training.” “I came into nationals a little unsure of my form, but I really liked the course,” Harris said. “It’s heavy and muddy, and my new bikes rode really great. I’m so happy I could take the title – and that I could do it Boels-Dolmans colours.” The race in Shrewsbury was a two-women show with Harris and Wyman proving frontrunners from the start. Wyman took an early lead, but Harris stayed on the gas until she could regain contact with the defending champion.
“It took me a lap to really get into the race,” Harris explained. “I felt stronger as the race went on. Helen had a gap after a lap, but I managed to come back to her mid-race. It was a battle until the end.” The last lap started dramatically. Wyman opened up a gap when Harris dropped a chain. “Helen gained some time on me when I had a mechanical at the start of the last lap,” said Harris. “I thought my race was over, but I didn’t give up.” “In the last section, Helen struggled with a bank, and her chain came off,” Harris continued. “She was just ahead me at that point. I went past her, and I didn’t look back.” Harris crossed the line covered in mud and smiles, hands raised in the air to celebrate her second elite cyclocross title earned three years after her first. “This one means more to me than the first title because it was such a battle,” said Harris. “This first wine was special, too, but I’m a different athlete now than I was in 2013, and I appreciate the wins more now because the competition level is so much higher.”