The 2017 BMX Australia National Series is reaching a crescendo, and the fourth round in Cairns will signify the conclusion of the Chambikx/Probikx UCI series and penultimate round of the Grands Assault National Series. In…

The 2017 BMX Australia National Series is reaching a crescendo, and the fourth round in Cairns will signify the conclusion of the Chambikx/Probikx UCI series and penultimate round of the Grands Assault National Series.

In the first three rounds of the national series there have been a number of riders who have established themselves as clear favourites. Chief among them are junior elite women’s competitor Saya Sakakibara, 16-year’s competitor Molly McGill and 17-29 men’s (17-32 men in Grands Assault) rider Dirk Winter, who all remain undefeated in both series’.

For Sakakibara it is the same position she was in 12 months ago as a first year junior elite women’s competitor. Cairns hosted rounds three and four of the 2016 national series, and she delivered in spades to continue what would be an undefeated season.  

When the national series arrives in Cairns this time around, expect to see Sakakibara as a hot favourite, but beware Caboolture BMX Club competitor Sara Jones who is hungry to break through for victory.

Meanwhile, Molly McGill will be looking to defend against adversary Lorsyn Affoo in the 16-years girl’s event and add to her winning streak thus far in 2017. In 2016, round three of the national series went to Affoo, while McGill won round four. Expect this battle to be hotly contested yet again, but also watch out for Leah Hearne who recently grabbed a podium spot at the ACT Titles behind Saya Sakakibara and Aussie women’s elite champion Leanna Curtis.

In the elite women’s Probikx UCI race the series leader is Curtis, but so far the Southlike/Illawarra BMX Club member is yet to register a win in the series. Victory against riders such as New Zealand’s dual Olympian and London silver medallist Sarah Walker in the Oceania Championships will no doubt buoy Curtis’ hopes of recapturing her winning form in Cairns.

Ironically Cairns was the location of Curtis’ breakthrough victory in 2016, when she defeated the then seemingly unstoppable Melinda McLeod in round four of the series. It would prove to be the first of a handful of wins against the now-retired McLeod in 2016.

The elite men’s landscape was vastly different in 2016 than it is in 2017. Leading the series was Bodi Turner, who like this year competed in the first handful of national series rounds.

Last year Turner claimed a victory in round four, but it was in round three that Queensland rider Corey Frieswyk broke through to claim round three. The two-time Australian champion played a tactical game to outsmart his competition through the first corner, setting up the win.

However in 2017 the elite men’s national series well and truly is under the stewardship of Matt Juster, and it will seemingly take something special to knock him out of top spot in the Probikx UCI series.

In the junior men’s race it is Izaac Kennedy controlling the standings, however there are a handful of riders still hungry to claim a win in Cairns. One of those is Lake Macquarie BMX Club rider Nathaniel Rodway, who sits winless for the series thus far and in fifth place. Last year the Novocastrian won the 16-years category and will no doubt be hoping to break the duck this season.

At the other end of the scale there will be a number of riders making their Cairns debut at national series events, and chief among those hoping for a top result will be local rider Shannon Petre in the 14-year-girl’s category.

Petre currently occupies second place in the Chambikx UCI series, and will need to overcome Castle Hill BMX Club rider Paige Harding to win on home turf. A pair of wins in Bathurst will boost Petre’s confidence ahead of her hometown debut.

In the 14-years-boy’s Buddha Baum has been unstoppable, and Jesse Asmus the perennial second place finisher. Baum will attempt to maintain the status quo, while Asmus will need to upset the apple cart for his breakthrough win in the series.

One other story to follow will be the fortunes of 15-year-old girl’s rider Des’Ree Barnes who had an injury scare during the Grand Assault National Series in Bathurst after falling on her right arm. Fortunately the prognosis was nothing more than deep bruising, and Barnes can ride for the chance to seal first place in the Chambikx UCI Series. In the 15 boy’s contest it is Western Australia’s Corey Taylor who holds an 80-point lead in the series. After locking away his first Chambikx victory for the year in Bathurst, he will no doubt aim to go back-to-back and lock down overall victory in the National Series in Cairns this weekend. 

Like always, expect that Cairns will provide good hospitality, hot weather and enticing racing. It’s a location fit to host the Chambikx/Probikx UCI finale, and penultimate showdown before the BMX Australia National Championships in just a few short weeks.