The race kicked off on Friday with a new qualification race and the Time Trial finals. 16 Men and 8 Women who were highest on the UCI ranking went straight to Saturday’s main program and raced the Time Trial finals on the challenging track. The remaining competitors from all over the world had to race three times to determine who would move on to the actual World Cup race the next day. 48 racers were added to the 16 qualified men to form a field of 64. 16 girls were added to the 8 highest ranked ladies.
The time Trial finals got on their way in front of an enthusiastic British crowd. They came to see the current UCI Elite Men World Champion Liam Phillips (ENG) do well at the season opener. It was Latvia’s Edzus Treimanis who set a fast time early on in the evening and was in the hot seat for a long time until Liam Phillips got on course and set a sub 29 second time. With one rider to go this was the time to beat. 2013 UCI Time Trial World Champion Connor Fields (USA) was on the gate and was blasting around the track finishing a mere 0.214 seconds behind the home town favourite. Edzus Treimanis ended up in third on Friday’s Time Trial race.
Laura Smulders from the Netherlands had worked hard all winter to be back in shape for the 2014 season. The 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist beat all the girls with a time of 33.251 followed by Brooke Crain (USA) and French champion Manon Valentino (3rd).
Under the eyes of full stands the first World Cup started off spectacular with packed races on Saturday evening April 19th. Racing was close and things could go either way for the 8 riders who lined up on the gate. One rider stood out and had a big crowd behind him cheering him on. Liam Phillips was the man to beat. The Brit won the race last year and had not lost a lap. After winning the time trials the day before he repeated the win with the other riders trying to beat him. Liam: “Winning here is so different than winning the Elite Men World Title in New Zealand. That was amazing but this is different, a lot more emotional. There was a lot more pressure and when you actually deliver it just feels amazing.” The happy Brit continues: “I was drawn in a strong moto against Kurt Pickard but it got me in a winning routine and I could stick to it till the end.” Powerhouse Anthony Dean from Australia crossed the finish line in second place ahead of Tory Hyhaug from Canada making it a worldwide podium in England.
“Winning never gets boring, it’s always a challenge, that’s why.” said Australian Caroline Buchanan after she had wrapped up the first BMX SX win of 2014. After a year of absence from the BMX Supercross scene the Australian is back and has her mind set on the overall title.“There were some nerves because at the beginning of the year you don’t know who did their homework in the off season but I came prepared. Staying on the bike was important. Some people got hurt but that’s why we love BMX, otherwise we’d be running in between some white lines or something.” added the Australian who will be racing the full UCI BMX World Cup season this year. With her grandmother in the stands it was a nice way to start the 2014 season
Picture: Winners of the day