Sam Willoughby (AUS) and Laura Smulders (NED) were victorious today in rainy conditions at the second round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series in The Netherlands. It was Willoughby’s first Supercross event of the year and he managed to continue his strong pre-season form. In the Women class, the Dutch fans were able to celebrate Smulders’ win which made them forget it was wet all day.
Round two will go in the history books as that wet race with strong winds. These conditions make it difficult to even ride a supercross track let alone race it with seven other riders on the gate who all want to win. The organisation did everything within their power to dry the track and starting hill. Team managers and mechanics used all their bad-weather experience to help their riders do well. Tires were packed in thrash bags and towels were used to keep the grips dry. As the day went on, we saw more and more tricks to prepare the riders for a dry run. But the rain kept coming and the wind never stopped. But just like on Saturday, it was safe enough to continue with the race. The crowd came prepared and was thrilled by the action on the track.
With 64 riders in the Men class and 32 in the Women category, the day started off with three moto’s. After the three laps, half of the riders transferred to the next round. From then on, it was necessary to make it in the top four each time to get to the final race. When the girls lined up for the final, six countries were represented. The Netherlands and Team USA had two women on the gate. As soon as the gate dropped, it was Laura Smulders (NED) who jumped and sprinted to the first turn in first position. The crowd got on their feet as Laura continued to lead. Behind her, Felicia Stancil (USA) moved into second place followed by Australia’s Caroline Buchanan and Stefanny Hernandez (VEN). These two girls battled all the way to the finish line to see who managed to get the last spot on the podium. Laura was cheered on to finish first, followed by Stancil and Hernandez who won a personal battle with the current world champ. Smulders: “I was a little bit scared of the heavy wind because when you’re in the air and the wind blows you sideways, it’s not what you want to happen but it all worked out well today.”
Smulders now sits in second at the overall standings, 30 points behind Caroline Buchanan and 10 points ahead of Brooke Crain (USA).
As the rain came down hard, the gate dropped for the Men final. All eyes were on Twan van Gendt who started from the outside but cut off enough riders to make it into turn one in first place. On the inside were Australians Sam Willoughby and Anthony Dean, but England’s Liam Phillips, who won round one in Manchester a few weeks earlier, put his bike in second place. Sam Willoughby was on a mission. He never settles for second place and started making a pass on Liam Phillips at the end of the second straight where the men section crossed the women track. With Liam now behind him, Sam’s favourite section of the track was coming up, the rhythm jumps on the third straight. Willoughby got next to van Gendt and by the end of the rollers, he was in first position. Van Gendt tried to counter but his legs were empty. He nearly got passed by Phillips at the finish line and also Anthony Dean was right there finishing in fourth. Sam Willoughby: “I picked gate number one which in hindsight wasn’t the best decision because I was slipping and sliding all over the place. It was a special race today on a track that held up fine. You’ll be seeing me at the remaining rounds of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cups. Despite the weather I had a good time racing supercross in Papendal.”
Liam Phillips (GBR) is now leading the World Cup series followed by Anthony Dean (AUS) and Connor Fields (USA).
Round two of the 2014 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series will go down in the history book as one of the toughest SX races of all times. Next one up: Berlin, Germany. 13-14 June 2014.