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Australia will pin their hopes of glory in the elite classes on 17 riders when the 2018 UCI BMX World Championships take place in Baku, Azerbaijan next month.    

Cover pic: Jerry Landrum/BMXMania.com

In recent years Baku has hosted the European Formula 1 Grand Prix, and annually hosts cycling’s Tour d’Azerbaijan as part of the UCI Europe Tour. The city is the largest in Azerbaijan and largest in the Caspian Sea and Caucasus region.

Two-time Olympian Lauren Reynolds from Bunbury, Western Australia and 2016 Rio Games finalist Anthony Dean of Adelaide will highlight the elite Australian contingent, with Reynolds excited to be back racing in the green and gold.

“I’ve been racing in the elite classes at the world championships since 2010, and I am very excited to be selected again,” Reynolds enthused.

“This year has been really consistent for me, and a lot of that can be put down to a great period of training at the end of 2017 and beginning of this year. My coach Sam Willoughby and I have clearly mapped out the year and knew that I would be in a great place to be selected.

“Worlds will be the biggest event on my calendar this year. Performance wise, I’m constantly improving on track.”

Joining Reynolds and Dean in the elite classes will be NSW siblings Kai and Saya Sakakibara, the latter announcing herself as a contender last month when she claimed bronze and silver medals respectively in the opening two rounds of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series.

The elite Australian women’s team will be completed by national champion Erin Lockwood and fellow Queensland rider Sara Jones, with 2016 national champion Leanna Curtis of Wollongong also offered a spot.

On the men’s side of the ledger Dean and Kai Sakakibara will be joined by 2018 Australian elite men’s champion Brandon Te Hiko from Geelong, fellow Victorian Max Cairns, another South Australian in Shane Rosa and NSW competitor Andrew Hughes.

In the junior elite classes 2018 Australian men and women’s champions Nathaniel Rodway (Newcastle) and Ashlee Miller (Sydney) have both been named to the team. Queenslanders Izaac Kennedy, Kye Affoo and Kyle Hill complete the junior men. Joining Miller on the junior women’s team is another Queenslander in Edan Whitlock.

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Australia’s elite hopefuls will be joined in Baku by a further 89 challenge class riders of all ages taking part. Soon to be seven-year-old Harley Bradshaw from Illawong in Sydney’s south takes the mantle as the youngest, while 62-year-old Narelle Falkenhagen from Laidley, west of Brisbane, will be the oldest.

With 106 riders set to don the green and gold in a month’s time in Baku, BMX Australia CEO Martin Shaw said that he is looking forward to seeing the team and making the most of their time at the new BMX venue.

“Over the past few months our team at BMXA have had a number of healthy discussions with Cycling Australia in order to put together a strong team of riders to contest the elite classes in Baku,” Shaw said.

“We believe the riders selected will be competitive at the world championship level.

“By all accounts, and from the images and video we have seen of the venue, it looks to be a fantastic place to compete. We’re looking forward to seeing our elite and challenge riders make the most of their time on track in Azerbaijan. Hopefully all riders can achieve their best result and return home proud of their efforts.”

The 2018 UCI BMX World Championships take place from June 5-9 in Baku, Azerbaijan. BMX Australia will be distributing information in the lead up to the event and will have daily news and results being published on each day of competition.

Australian elite team for 2018 BMX World Championships:  

Men: Anthony Dean, Shane Rosa (SA), Kai Sakakibara, Andrew Hughes (NSW), Brandon Te Hiko and Max Cairns (VIC)

Women: Lauren Reynolds (WA), Saya Sakakibara, Leanna Curtis (NSW), Erin Lockwood and Sara Jones (QLD)

Junior men: Nathaniel Rodway (NSW), Izaac Kennedy, Kyle Hill and Kye Affoo (QLD)

Junior women: Ashlee Miller (NSW) and Edan Whitlock (QLD)