PMB abuzz with BMX bikers

2010-07-29 00:00

THE UCI BMX World Championships gets under way at the Royal Showgrounds in the city today with a large South African contingent eager to satisfy the huge expectations of their local fans.

Some 1 100 riders from 37 nations have entered the competition, racing on the world’s first track that sees an elite track alongside the cruiser class track and spanning an endurance- testing 385 metres from start to finish.

South African Olympic hero Sifiso Nhlapo has been mobbed by fans since his arrival in Pietermaritzburg, and has tried to balance his obligations to his supporters with staying focused on his preparations for a world senior title in the elite racing on Saturday afternoon.

Nhlapo, or “Skizo” as he is known to his followers, heads up a South African entry of 300 riders eager to make an impression on the UCI challenge, Cruiser and World Championship races, win medals and earn the prized “world number” rankings.

The action starts with two days of competition in the Challenge classes, ranging from the Under-13 age group to master classes, with the elite riders getting their turn to practise on the unique layout later in each afternoon.

The attention turns to the elite riders on Saturday, when the Royal Showgrounds main arena will become a cauldron of excitement as the best elite riders in the world start working their way through the heats (or “motos”) through to quarter- and semi-finals until the line-up for the climax main finals is settled.

Adding extra pressure to the elite riders is the challenge to earn critical Olympic qualification points that will be awarded at this year’s world championships for the first time.

“There’s no doubt there will be more pressure on the riders, as this event carries the most points in the whole Olympic qualification process,” said the UCI’s head of gravity disciplines, Johan Lindstrom.

The elite field has been reshaped by a spate of accidents in training. South African pacesetter Dean Holdstock’s dreams of making the men’s elite main final evaporated in the dust of Alrode in Gauteng when he injured vertebrae in a crash during the final leg of the SA champs.

A frustrated Holdstock is on the mend, and will be in the stands to show his support for the South African team.

There will be a new name on the world championship trophy following confirmation that U.S. ace Donny “DR” Robinson was ruled out of flying to South Africa to defend his title after falling badly in training and re-injuring his lungs and ribs.

That same crash on the final straight at the U.S. high performance training base at Chula Vista saw his team-mate, Kyle Bennett, rushed to hospital suffering two fractures in his left collar bone, an AC joint separation on his right shoulder, three fractured ribs, a bruised lung, a broken cheekbone and a laceration to his liver.

The Latvian juggernaut, Maris “Bombis” Strombergs, has been the global pacesetter in the elite men since winning the coveted Olympic gold in Beijing, and has regularly won Supercross and international titles riding the wave of his Olympic fame in 2008.

However, the BMX world is talking up the chances of Australian ace Sam Willoughby. Since ruling the world as a junior, the speedster from Adelaide has taken the step up to senior elite racing with ease, and the 19-year-old comes into the World Champs with the UCI number one ranking following a stellar season.

In the elite women’s field, expect to see the Tricolor flying in the stadium when Laëtitia le Corguillé appears at the top of the massive eight-metre high elite start ramp.

She will be put under pressure by Australian ace Caroline Buchanan, Colombia’s Mariana Pajon, U.S. champ Alise Post and top Kiwi racer Sarah Walker, as the increasingly competitive women’s classes progress through to the main final.

The junior men’s class is sizing up to be a highly competitive struggle between the class riders like the Americans, Connor Fields and Corben Sharra, and Canada’s Tory Nyhaug , while the girls’ 2010 world title holder may come from Dutch star Merle Van Benthem or American Brooke Crain.

The UCI BMX World Championships takes place at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg from today to Sunday.

Entry is R35 per day. More information can be found at www.bmxworldchampspmb.co.za

 

PROGRAMME OF EVENTS

Today

09h00 UCI BMX World Challenge 13 and Under to Main Finals

14h30 UCI BMX World Challenge 13 and Under Medal ceremony

15h00 Elite Women and junior women practice

16h00 Junior men practice

17h00 Elite Men practice

Tomorrow

09h00 UCI BMX World Challenge 14 and over, master classes to Main Finals

12h00 Autograph signing session

14h00 UCI BMX World Challenge 14 and over, master classes medal ceremony

14h30 Elite women, junior women practice

15h00 Junior men practice

15h30 Elite men practice

16h00 Junior men, junior women time trials

Saturday 31 July

09h00 Elite riders warm-up

10h00 Elite men and Elite women time trials

12h25 Junior men warm up

13h30 UCI BMX World Championships - junior women, junior men, elite women, elite men

motos to main finals

17h10 UCI BMX World Championships - junior women, junior men, elite women, elite men medal ceremony

Sunday 1 August

09h00 World Challenge Cruiser 12, 13-14,15-16,17-29,30-34,35-39,40-44,45+

motos to main Finals

14h30 World Challenge Cruiser 12, 13-14,15-16,17-29,30-34,35-39,40-44,45+ medal ceremony

15h00 World Championship Cruiser Junior Women, junior, elite women, elite

motos to main Finals

18h00 World Championship Cruiser Junior Women, junior, elite women, elite medal ceremony

18h15 Closing ceremony

 

 

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