Kiwi BMX rider Trent Jones came of age at the latest round of the UCI World Cup Supercross in Sweden today.
Battling fierce winds, Jones earned a place in his first World Cup final just a few days after celebrating his 21st birthday.
Fellow Kiwi Sarah Walker also showed good speed in her comeback, only to be among a number caught out by the strong winds that forced delays to the programme, crashing in the semifinal.
The result for Jones also came at a cost, going down in a crash in his final moto and battling through the challenging conditions before crashing in the same opening jump in the final, leaving an amount of skin behind on the unforgiving track at Angelholm.
On a weekend when New Zealand veteran Marc Willers announced his retirement from the sport, Jones quietly announced he is ready to take over the Kiwi mantle.
“It was a challenging weekend with such strong winds that forced most of the racing into the final day,” said Cycling New Zealand BMX coach, Ryan Hollows.
“It was right on the boundary of what was safe, especially for the women. In Sarah’s case she just got pushed slightly off course in the winds and came together with another bike.
“There’s no injury for her but it was a shame as she was showing really good speed.
“Sarah could get back to being better than she has ever been. We have two more world cups and I think she will be on a podium before the end of the season.”
Jones had finished with a win and third in his opening two qualifying races but came down on the big first jump in his final moto, although still qualified.
He recovered to finish an outstanding second in the quarterfinal from an outside lane and second in his semi behind 2014 world champion Liam Phillips (GBR).
“I was felling quite confident. The plan was that my training partner Sam Willoughby would make some room for me as I drew the lane outside him. But I got pushed by the wind and just hit his back wheel, and came down at the same spot as earlier and lost a bit more skin.
“It’s like jumping off the top of a bus going 60kph with nothing under you but concrete. Pretty scary.
“I’m so stoked to get to a final. I think I am really making progress and looking forward to the rest of the season.”
It was the first final for Jones who has qualified for three World Cup semifinals last year and has made two world championship semis.
Teammate Matt Cameron (Taranaki) went out in the quarterfinals but will get further opportunity in the upcoming world cup competitions. The team remain training in the Netherlands this week before heading to back-to-back world Cups in Argentina and USA before the test event at Rio.