Aussies in pursuit of World Cup success
25 September 2015
BMX: Olympic silver medallist Sam Willoughby and reigning Australian champion Caroline Buchanan will headline a talent rich Australian team of 19 competing this weekend at the fifth and final round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series in Rock Hill, USA.
The world class Olympic facility in South Carolina is set to host its first ever World Cup event that will ultimately decide the 2015 series champions. The open track is less technical than others on the circuit, and is conducive to fast all out racing that is sure to captivate the crowds across the weekend.
Racing in the elite women promises to be a tense affair, with current series leader Mariana Pajon maintaining a marginal lead over a chasing pack that includes defending series champion Buchanan. Currently sitting in fourth overall, Buchanan is acutely aware that a top three performance this weekend will ensure a place on the season ending podium.
“There has been some really solid battles between the top girls this season, so a win here this weekend will require fine execution. Basically, I will need to place myself in position to choose a favourable gate selection in both the semi final and final to be in contention,” Buchanan said.
“My goal is to finish on the podium here which will put me on the overall World Cup series podium and wrap up a long but successful year.”
Lining up alongside her will be compatriot Lauren Reynolds, who says the track will almost certainly favour competitive racing and is confident her preparation has her well placed to capitalise.
“It’s a great track and a world class facility, it’s smaller than other tracks and doesn’t require as much skill which should make for some great racing for the final round,” Reynolds said.
“To succeed you will need to show up with your race face on and ride smart and aggressively. I am confident in my preparation and that will help me to remain focused.
“I will be doing everything I can to give myself the best chance of finishing the World Cup season strongly.”
With the Rio Olympic Games now just under a year away, Beijing Olympian Reynolds, said a strong performance would help her gain momentum heading into the Olympic year.
“Results speak for themselves and each race you get a chance to do your best,” she said.
"I have a great opportunity this weekend to perform well and head into the rest of the year and onto 2016 feeling confident and strong.”
In the elite men, barring catastrophe Great Britain’s Liam Phillips is assured of securing his second series crown in as many years, courtesy of three wins this season in Manchester, Angelholm and Santiago del Estero.
While besides the strong allure of a World Cup win, both Willoughby (475pts) and fellow South Australian Anthony Dean (450pts) have extra motivation to succeed this weekend, with both riders in a position to sneak onto the podium after the Netherland’s Jelle van Gorkom (490pts), who currently occupies third spot, broke both his collarbones and a rib during training.
With plenty of all-important Olympic points on the line across the weekend, Australian High Performance Coach Wade Bootes highlighted the importance of strong results in helping Australia to qualify maximum positions for Rio.
“It is important for our nation that all riders perform to their best as it will be a close race between the top nations for Olympic qualification come May 2016,” he said.
“The SX World cup series is a great way for our riders to practice their race plans and strategies, to gain confidence in their preparations and to demonstrate that they are capable of delivering medal winning results in Rio.”
Also flying the flag for Australia this weekend will be Bodi Turner, Joshua Callan, Corey Frieswyk, Matthew Juster, Tristyn Kronk, Brandon Te Hiko, David Habicht, Andrew Hughes, Joshua McLean and Tom Siinmaa in the elite men.
While in the elite women Melinda McLeod, Rachel Jones, Harriet Burbidge-Smith, Leanna Curtis and Kirsten Dellar will also take to the start ramp.