Knee injury forces Harris to miss trip to World Champs and call premature end to her season
NIKKI Harris has been forced to end the most successful cyclo-cross season of her career and may need surgery to clear up a knee injury.
The disappointing news, a fortnight after she defied the injury to win the British Championship for the first time, means Harris will miss the cyclo-cross World Championships in Lousiville, Kentucky, next weekend – a race in which Derbyshire will still be represented, with mountain bike Olympian Annie Last also selected.
Harris, from Draycott, raced the final round of the sport's season-long World Cup series in Hoogerheide, Holland, last week, where she was protecting her second overall position.
But by then it was becoming clear that the injury was getting worse and she came home 10th, meaning she finished the World Cup in third place overall.
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Such a position would have been unthinkable a year ago, such has been the 26-year-old's progress this season, and with a national title and a European Championship silver medal in her locker, too, she knows deep down it has been a good year.
"Nearly every race this season I've been fighting with the girls at the front trying to get a result and when I'm there and fighting, at least I know at the end that it doesn't really matter what the result is because I know I've tried my best," she said.
"You learn from your little mistakes and move on.
"However, this was different. I couldn't push on. I couldn't get everything out of myself. I finished the race hardly out of breath.
"I was scared of crashing, scared to push on the pedals, all because of a ridiculous bump to the knee nearly three weeks before.
"I've crashed so many times over the years on my knees but this one left with a pain that feels as though I had a knife plunging through it."
Harris picked up the injury when her knee crashed against her handlebars in a World Cup race at Zolder in Belgium. She was advised to rest it completely ahead of the British Championships and duly won that race, at Bradford, after staying off the bike for a week.
But a return visit to the knee specialist in Belgium after the Hoogerheide race did not bring welcome news.
"I managed to mask the pain for a few weeks and hoped it would recover and I could finish my season strongly, as I had planned," said Harris.
"But now we have learned that the injury has worsened and I have an acute tear in some tissue on my patella.
"I will have to end my season immediately and take some rest. After a few weeks, we can re-evaluate how things are going and decide if surgery is necessary or not.
"It's obviously a huge disappointment to me, my team and British Cycling that I won't be able to take part in the world championships in Louisville and the remainder of the season.
"Time is on my side and I have the time now to let my body recover."