(Cover pic: South Australia’s Shane Rosa had speed to burn at nationals, narrowly missing the elite men’s title to Brandon Te Hiko. PIC: Energy Images/Dale Watson)
Freezing conditions have greeted a contingent of Australian BMX riders in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, 25km west of the centre of Paris, France this week ahead of the first two rounds of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Series.
In total there will be nine Aussies lining up on the gate this weekend in France, including two-time Olympian Lauren Reynolds. Included in that number is a group of five riders who raced under a warm sun at the 2018 national championships in Bunbury, Western Australia last Saturday.
Led by newly crowned Australian elite men’s champion Brandon Te Hiko of Geelong, the Aussies who have crossed the globe to race in cold conditions and rain includes NSW rider Andrew Hughes, South Australian Shane Rosa and Queensland riders Jye Hombsch and Sara Jones.
Canberra’s Harriet Burbidge-Smith has also travelled to Europe for the event.
They join brother and sister duo Kai and Saya Sakakibara, who missed the Aussie titles to race in the opening two rounds of the UEC BMX European Cup in Verona, Italy. Kai managed to grab a silver medal on the second day of racing, while Saya starred and rode off with gold on the same day.
Also chalking up strong results of late has been Reynolds, who has recently put together a string of four podium finishes in the USA BMX Supercross National Series.
On the line for all the Aussies in France this weekend will be a shot at making their case for selection to the Australian BMX team for this year’s UCI BMX World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. This year riders are required to achieve two top international results, as prescribed in the Cycling Australia BMX selection policy, in order to be “automatically eligible for consideration for selection” to the team.
After two days of practice in the brisk conditions, BMX Australia National Coaching Manager Luke Madill said that the cold weather was throwing down a challenge for the Aussie riders who have recently travelled from Western Australia ahead of the weekend.
“The guys that have just arrived here are struggling a little bit with the cold…even my hands went numb filming their session,” Madill said.
“For those that have already been in Europe, there will be an advantage in being acclimatised. Lauren has come from the USA, and even where she raced in Rock Hill, South Carolina last weekend, it was cold. So these temperatures are not as shocking as those that have come from Western Australia.”
Last weekend’s European Cup gold medallist Saya Sakakibara considered herself lucky to have already had a chance to adapt to the icy racing conditions.
“Verona was very cold, and very different to what I was used to at home in Australia. There is a drastic difference between a Sydney winter and this,” Sakakibara said.
“But I think spending this last week in the cold has helped our bodies to cope with it, and has set us up for the conditions we have in France. I expect it might be even colder than Italy.
“So it was a big advantage to be able to adapt to the cold in Verona.”
Racing commences Saturday March 31 (Sunday April 1 12:40am AEDT – note a 1 hour change to daylight standard time at 3am AEDT/2am AEST) for round one of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup. Finals are scheduled to take from 5:15am AEST that same day.
Round two begins the next day at 1:40am AEDT, with finals scheduled to again start at 5:15am AEST.
NOTE: Times updated from those advertised by the UCI in consideration of cold conditions.