North Harbour’s Rico Bearman made it three wins from three finals so far this season in the UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Papendal, Netherlands today.
Bearman, racing in the under-23 men’s competition, was unbeaten throughout the first of two days of World Cup action at the famed Papendal track.
After dominating the five lead-up heats including the quarterfinal and semifinal, the 19-year-old thought he had been pipped in the final by Frenchman Mateo Colsenet until a photo-finish confirmed the win for the kiwi by 0.19s.
“I got out really good but coming down the second straight I made a few mistakes,” said Bearman. “Colsenet caught up right at the finish and I thought he had got it but thanks to the photo finish I managed to get it done.
“It definitely wasn’t my best lap of the day but it doesn’t matter now. The goal is to try and make it four out of four tomorrow,” said Bearman who won both finals in the opening double round in Turkey two weeks ago.
Bearman also paid respects to American BMX legend, Mike Redman who passed away overnight. Redman was a former pro racer, BMX bike manufacturer and popular announcer including the world championships in Auckland in 2013.
Bearman was joined on the podium by 19-year-old Cambridge rider Megan Williams, who claimed her first World Cup podium after finishing third in the under-23 women’s race, after being edged to fourth place in the opening round final in Turkey.
Williams was second in her quarterfinal and fourth in her semifinal. She fought back strongly after missing the jump fractionally at the start of the grand final, back in fourth behind the leading trio. She was forced wide after a rider fell but was strong down the second straight to push into third which she held through to the finish.
They were the only kiwi riders to make finals on the first day of racing at Papendal.
In the elite men, North Harbour’s Michael Bias qualified well and won his first-round elimination race but went out in the quarterfinal, while Cole McOnie (Te Awamutu) missed out narrowly in the Last Chance heat.
In Under-23 men, Bennett Greenough (Cambridge) was impressive in winning his qualifying heat while brother Jack and Cambridge rider Rico D’Anvers also qualified.
Bennett won three straight elimination heats to force his way to the semifinal but came down in a collision to miss out on his first grand final of the season. Earlier his brother and D’Anvers went out in the first elimination round.
Meanwhile fellow Waikato rider Baylee Luttrell was third in the Last Chance heat, missing out on qualifying by just 0.7s.
In elite racing Australia’s Saya Sakakibara won the elite final ahead of local Dutch stars, sisters Laura and Merel Smulders. Sakakibara, outstanding in the final, impressed in a classy display to win the Oceania title earlier in the year. She is expected to be a favourite when the UCI BMX Racing World Cup returns to the same track in Rotorua in April next year.
The local stars also missed out in the elite men’s final won by Frenchman Romain Mathieu, with four French riders in the grand final.
The fourth round of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup is at the same venue in Papendal tomorrow.