(image credit: Joolzed)
That excellent result encouraged her and during the following four years with the team her riding went from strength to strength. In 2008, she relocated to Belgium to concentrate on her cyclo cross riding and, she says, "it went better than I could have ever hoped." Just a few months after her return to cross, she was selected to compete in the 2009 World Championships and came 14th. She lists future World Championship victory as her main aim in her future career. 2012 would be an excellent year for Harris. She began the season with third place at the Baal cyclo cross race, just 25" behind winner Daphny van den Brand and 8" behind Sanne Cant, then third behind Marianne Vos and van den Brand at Rucphen and followed up with a series of podium finishes before winning the National Cross Country Mountain Bike Championship in the summer.
The 2012/13 cyclo cross season got off to a perfect start with victory at Neerpelt in September, Ruddervoorde in October, then at Niel and Gavere-Asper in November. Also in November she won bronze at the European Championships in Ipswich, finishing 24" behind legendary seven-time British Champion Helen Wyman, an indication that she'd timed her peak perfectly for the National Championships - which proved to be the case when she won. By the time of her 27th birthday, the 2013/14 season was well underway and she'd already enjoyed numerous successes including second place behind Katie Compton at Tabor, second behind Wyman at Ruddervoorde, second again behind Wyman at the European Championships and victory at Hamme-Zogge.
Despite cyclo cross' small profile in Britain, Harris - along with Wyman and Gabby Durrin - is enormously popular with cycling fans, partly for her talent and partly because she's genuinely appreciative of them and often takes the time to chat on Twitter. Send your birthday wishes to @Nikkiharris86.
(image credit: tetedelacourse CC BY-SA 2.0)
Born in Vlijmen on this day in 1985, the Dutch cyclist Lars Boom won the National Junior Cyclo Cross Championships in 2001 and 2002, then won it again in 2003 before also becoming World Junior Cyclo Cross Champion. This brought him the opportunity to join Rabobank's GS3 development team and, apparently thankful to them for offering him his chance to make a career in cycling, he has ridden for Rabobank ever since.
In 2004 he won the National Under-23 Cyclo Cross Championship, then a year later he beat cyclo cross legend Sven Nys in - of all races - the Grand Prix Sven Nys before going on to successfully defend the U-23 title; the following year he won the Vlaamse Druivenveldrit Overijse, a race held on one of the most notoriously difficult and dangerous courses in cyclo cross - having led for much of the event, he skidded during the final lap and was overtaken by Bart Wellens, who was first over the line but was subsequently disqualified for kicking a spectator he claimed had thrown beer over him. Despite being under the minimum age, Boom was awarded special dispensation by the national cycling federation to compete at Elite level in Dutch competitions in 2007 and won the National Championship, then also became World U-23 Champion; in 2008 successfully defended his National title in addition to becoming World Elite Champion. He remained National Champion in 2009; then revealed that he planned to concentrate on road racing in the future - however, he was National Cyclo Cross Champion again in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
|Boom at Gent-Wevelgem, 2011|
Boom joined Rabobank's GS3 development team in 2004, then rode for their Continental team for the next four seasons before moving into the ProTour team for 2009. He remained with them right through into 2012, when the bank announced its intention to withdraw from men's professional cycling in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal, after which it became known as Blanco during a period in which Rabobank honoured contracts but wished not to be associated with the team, then when it became Belkin in 2013 - and he has confirmed that he will stay put for 2014.
Shane Perkins, the Australian track sprinter and winner of a Commonwealth gold medal, is 25 today. Perkins has had a bit of a chequered career, having been banned from racing and fined $1000 by the Australian cycling federation after a drunken altercation outside a nightclub in Adelaide.
It was later discovered that he had been involved in a third incident during April that may well have discouraged the selection committee from choosing him, but this news was not made public until August after the selection. Perkins became a father a short while later in October and has said that parental responsibility has calmed him down and forced him to grow up: thus far, it appears he is telling the truth and his gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2011 World Track Championships were well-deserved.
Happy birthday to the retired American professional road and track cyclist Karen Dunne, winner of no fewer than 16 National titles in assorted disciplines, two stages and the overall General Classification at the 2000 Sea Otter Classic, a gold medal at the Pan American Games and two 4th place finishes in the 1996 Tour de France Féminin, among many others. She was born on this day in 1967.
A happy birthday to Desmond Robinson, the British cyclist who competed in Individual and Team Road Races at the 1952 Olympics. He is the brother of Brian, who became the first British rider to complete a Tour de France and win a stage and the uncle of Louise, who represented Great Britain in Mountain Bike XC in the 2000 Olympics. He was born in 1927.
Retired professional cyclo crosser and mountain biker David Baker was born on this day in 1965 in Drayton, Yorkshire. He became National Champion in 1992 and won every round of the National Points Series in the same year, going on to retain his title for another two years. He also won the BCCA Cyclo Cross Championship in 1997, having retired from professional racing due to a heart defect. In 2009, he was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of fame.
Thomas "Tiny" Johnson, winner of 32 races in 1911 and multiple Olympic medals for Great Britain during his career, was born in 1886. He died on the 12th of August 1966.
Other cyclists born on this day: Joseph Paré, sometimes spelled Pare (France, 1943); Dubán Ramírez (Columbia, 1965);Yolande Speedy, who has the official best name in cycling (South Africa, 1976).