Latvia, New Zealand, Australia and France. UCI BMX Racing World Cup wins to 4 countries at Papendal.
A record number of BMX athletes lined up for Round 3 of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup held at Papendal, Netherlands. The 11th edition sure was a hot one in all aspects. The 27-degree heat had spectators and athletes look for shade but once on top of the 8-meter starting hill it was time to block that out and focus on the first 10-meter-long double jump. The smooth wide-open track at the Olympic training grounds once again was in prime condition giving all participants a fair chance to make it to the first turn in front of the pack.
Classes at the race on Saturday were the Under 23 and Elite classes with the Papendal Cup qualifier as an intermission race. Once the ¼ started it was anyone’s game. Looking good early on were Izaac Kennedy (AUS), Olympic Champion Niek Kimmann (NED), UCI World Champion Simon Marquart, current UCI World Cup leader before round 3 Romain Mahieu (FRA) and Joris Daudet (FRA). Mitchel Schotman (NED) won his 1/8th final in the Elite Men class as did Frenchis Arthur Pilard, Sylvain André and Leo Garoyan and Colombia’s Diego Arboleda. The fastest Elite Women winning their first round were a.o. Molly Simpson (CAN), Bethany Shriever (GBR), Mariana Pajon (COL), Zoe Claessens (SUI) and Alise Willoughby (USA) making it an international affair in the Elite Women class.
When the finals started with the U23 Women it was Michelle Wissing (NED) who had to race against athletes from Latvia, USA, France, GBR, Italy, Colombia and New Zealand. A true World Cup final with the win going to the very strong Monika Sturiska from Latvia followed by Tessa Martinez (FRA) and Megan Williams. Michelle Wissing took home 6th place points on her home World Cup and has one night to sleep to see what Round 4 will bring on Sunday.
Rico Bearman (NZL) was the big favourite going into the U23 final. The New Zealander had given away the 2021 UCI BMX Racing World Title by crashing out on his own at Papendal in the second turn while in the lead. That was not going to happen again this time. Rico took the holeshot and lead the race from start to finish but Matéo Colsenet (FRA) kept him honest from beginning to the very end. It’s 3 out of 3 for Rico now. Not too shabby.
The Elite Women final was stacked. When the current UCI World Champion finishes 8th it shows how high the level was of this main. Saya Sakakibara (AUS) and Mariana Pajon (COL) took off together and left the others behind on the first straight. It was Laura Smulders who grabbed the inside on turn one to pass Pajon and chase Sakakibara. On the second straight Merel Smulders caught Pajon as well and grabbed a podium spot being in third position. Saya managed to keep the lead to win UCI World Cup Round 3 at Papendal in front of the Smulders sisters.
It has become a normal thing to have 4 French riders in the Elite Men final. Even with Joris Daudet being eliminated earlier on, we had Rencurel, André, Pilard and Mahieu representing France in the final at Round 3. This time Niek Kimmann, starting from lane 8, could not make magic happen and saw Romain Mahieu get to the first turn first. With Arthur Pilard also getting to the 180 left turn quick it was playing catch-up from that moment on for the Tokyo 2020 gold medalist. Mahieu had his hands full with Pilard who tried to pass left and right but came up a little short when the finish line was reached. Diego Arboleda (COL) grabbed the last podium spot in Elite Men on the Saturday.
One down at Papendal, one more to go on Sunday. With winners from Latvia, New Zealand, Australia and France we will have to see what Round 4 brings.
1) Romain Mahieu (FRA)
2) Arthur Pilard (FRA)
3) Diego Arboleda (COL)
1) Saya Sakakibara (AUS)
2) Laura Smulders (NED)
3) Merel Smulders (NED)
1) Rico Bearman (NZL)
2) Matéo Colsenet (FRA)
3) Tim Goossens (NED)
1) Veronika Sturiska (LAT)
2) Tessa Martinez (FRA)
3) Megan Williams (NZL)