Highlight UCI BMX World Championships Birmingham. The 2012 UCI BMX World Championships finished on Saturday evening with splendid races that saw the Australian Sam Willoughby win the Elite men's title and France's Magalie Pottier take victory in the Elite women's competition.
Neither of the previous day's time trial winners, the American Connor Fields and the Australian Caroline Buchanan, was able to make their mark in the final: Fields fell in the second to last corner, while Buchanan did not manage to get past the semi-finals.
Bad luck for Great Britain
Multiple crashes, not unusual on short and technical tacks such as that of the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, were on the menu of the evening. Although not serious as far as the health of the participants was concerned, they did however eliminate some of the big names in the world of BMX. Great Britain, the host nation of these Worlds, was one of the sufferers, seeing both Liam Phillip and Shanaze Reade, both second in the time trials, ruled out of the competition.
"It is very rare that we lose both our trump cards on the same day," commented British Cycling's Olympic BMX Coach Grant White. "That's partly bad luck but we will do all we can to ensure it doesn't happen again in the future."
Reade, clearly disappointed, confirmed that she "didn't enjoy it" but her coach stressed that the importance was her return to competition form after twelve months of health problems.
Willoughby took the first corner first
In the absence of Buchanan, the Australian supporters put all their hopes in Willoughby in the Men's final. And he lived up to their expectations by taking the win in masterful fashion. Fourth last year and systematically 2nd in the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup this season, the native of Adelaide, aged 21, applied a planned tactic to the letter: "The race followed the plan exactly. I started in the first lane and had to get to the first corner first, and from then take a breath and ride as smoothly as possible because it's a tight indoor arena".
The French team took the remaining medals: silver for the 2011 World Champion Joris Daudet and bronze for Moana Moo Caille.
France captures gold and silver at women's race
France extended its domination with the world title in the Elite women's race thanks to Magalie Pottier. Only 9th in Friday's time trial, she got her revenge in beating another her compatriot Eva Ailloud, who was second yesterday. The Czech Romana Labounkova finished third.
"I wanted to show what I was capable of," told the winner, who had suffered some health problems a few weeks earlier. "I had this victory in a corner of my mind but I didn't know what my rivals would be like. Some didn't even get to the final, but that is what BMX is like. Sometimes it is all over in 30 seconds..."
Currently leading the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, Pottier, aged 23, had already won the rainbow jersey in the Cruiser in 2006 and 2007 when this discipline was part of the UCI BMX World Championships programme.
Like Willoughby, Pottier is now looking towards the London Olympic Games in two months. The two new UCI World Champions say that their successes boost their confidence for the Games.
A rainbow jersey for a World Cycling Centre's trainee
In the Junior Men's competition, the Colombian Carlos Ramirez beat the American Maliek Blyndloss and France's Léopold Tramier. A trainee at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Ramirez explained: "I have woken up every morning and trained every day to be allowed to wear the rainbow jersey one day. It's done now, so I have special feelings. To win today was just a question of willing: you have to be the rider who wants to win the most".
The Junior women's podium was very similar to that of the day before in the time trial: the American Felicia Stancil finished in front of Germany's Nadja Pries. The only difference is that the American Danni George took bronze.
A total of 2,000 athletes took part in the 2012 UCI BMX World Championships, which includes the UCI World Challenge categories. Next year, the Worlds will take place in Auckland, New Zealand.
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