The New Zealand BMX team are buoyed to finish their season on a strong note when they take on the biggest test in the sport in California starting tomorrow.
The Olympic track at Chula Vista in southern California is regarded as the biggest in the world, with some fearsome jumps for the final round of the UCI BMX World Cup Supercross.
After a disappointing recent Supercross in Argentina, the BikeNZ team have enjoyed an excellent build-up at the new facility at Rock Hill in North Carolina, the venue for next year’s world championships.
“The weather was a bit up and down but we got in what we needed there,” said BikeNZ head coach Ryan Hollows.
“They are working on improvements there to make it more of an all-weather facility which we were able to advise on given our tracks need to be all-weather as much as possible. If the changes pan out it is the likely spot for our Rio preparation.”
Hollows said the Argentina result was not unexpected but improved performances are expected this week.
“In Argentina we had two athletes coming off injuries and one who was called in late so it was not the best prep. We’ve got world class riders. If they get it right on the day there’s nothing stopping us having multiple riders in the finals.
“A good result is not far away. I am expecting more from them in Chula and they are hungry for better results.”
Leading the way is North Canterbury 20 year old Trent Jones, who is the top ranked Kiwi rider in 11th on the overall World Cup standings, and now fully recovered from a serious injury at the world championships.
He is looking forward to the return to wide open spaces of Chula Vista following the tight confines of the indoor surface at the worlds.
“I prefer this style of track with a big track and big jumps. It’s a bit more open and better for a rider like myself who is better at the whole sprinting side of things so I can open up.”
His status in the top 16 ranked riders, along with teammate Marc Willers, means they are exempt from the first day qualifying, with only the time trial to complete which sorts qualifying groups for the race day.
“The advantage is we don’t have to do the pre qualifying racing. That keeps up fresher for racing,” said Jones.
“You don’t get to do that three qualifying system so you don’t get that extra practice on the track to work on your lines with lesser quality riders around you.
“But I prefer the pre-qualifying. It’s a lot easier on the body and you don’t fatigue as much because it’s one day’s racing not two.”
Hollows said the BikeNZ team of Willers, Jones, Olympic medallist Sarah Walker, Hannah Sarten and Matt Cameron are all in strong shape.
US-based Kiwi riders Cody Stevens and Nic Fox are also in the field for tomorrow’s three qualifying motos and time trials. There will be a further three motos with half the field moving to the automatic elimination rounds to the final.
Caption: Matt Cameron in training today for the final round of the UCI BMX World Cup Supercross in Chula Vista, California at the weekend. Credit: Craig Dutton