After a three-month break, the UCI BMX Racing World Cup returned with races in Colombia

The road to the Olympic games in Paris 2024 is getting hotter.

Rounds five and six of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup took place on 24 and 25 September at the Pista BMX Carlos Ramirez in Bogotá, Colombia. This followed two rounds that were held in Glasgow, Great Britain, and two in Papendal, Netherlands, earlier in the year. The incredible support from the home crowd, who love this cycling discipline, made sure the UCI BMX Racing World Cup had a successful return. Both Mariana Pajón and Carlos Ramirez have BMX Racing tracks named after them. Their popularity in the home country has reached rock-star levelso.

Niek Kimmann and Bethany Shriever shine in round five

Over 200 athletes had signed up for round five, both the athletes and the national cycling federations realising the importance of getting Olympic qualifying points. Many of them arrived in Colombia early to acclimatise to the altitude of 2600m, riding several tracks in preparation for the UCI BMX Racing World Cup.

After a break from racing, Olympic BMX Racing gold medalist Niek Kimmann (NED) had chosen Colombia for his UCI BMX Racing World Cup comeback. To qualify for the next round required making the top four and Kimmann made it through. Once in the final, the Dutch rider lined up in gate eight with athletes from six other countries, all of them aiming for the victory.

The long first straight saw American Cameron Wood take the lead, but Kimmann managed to close the door and railed the first turn, taking off with Wood in tow and Sylvain André (FRA) in third. Kye Whyte (GBR) worked his way through the pack, but his comeback came too late to reach the podium as Kimmann, Wood and André finished first, second and third.

When Colombia’s Mariana Pajón placed her bike in the starting gate for the Women Elite final, the crowd erupted hoping to see a podium finish for the queen of BMX Racing. However, hampered by her starting position in line eight, she could only enter the first turn in sixth position.

Up front it was Olympic BMX Racing champion Bethany Shriever (GBR) setting the pace, followed by UCI BMX Racing World Cup leader Laura Smulders (NED) and American Alise Willoughby. Merel Smulders (NED) passed both Paola Reis Santos (BRA) and Pajón to finish fifth behind Australian Lauren Reynolds, meaning Colombia didn’t enjoy the podium finish they craved. The Women Elite podium consisted of three other BMX Racing legends with Shriever winning it for Great Britain, followed by Laura Smulders in second and Willoughby in third.

In the Under 23 categories, younger talent refines their competitive skills before moving into the Elite classes. It gives athletes an option to get more racing under the belt before racing against the fastest BMX Racing riders on the planet.

Léo Garoyan from France became Under 23 UCI BMX Racing World Champion in Nantes this summer and backed it up with a UCI BMX Racing World Cup win in Colombia. The UCI rainbow jersey sprinkled some more super-power onto the Frenchman who beat many talented riders including the Under 23 UCI BMX Racing World Cup Champion from last year, Asuma Nakai (JPN, seventh), 2022 European Champion Hugo Marszalek (FRA, third) and French National Champion Lui Hin Tsan (sixth).

In the Under 23 Women race, Latvia’s Veronika Monika Sturiska took the victory followed by McKenzie Gayheart and 18-year-old Emily Hutt (GBR). For reference, Sturiska’s time of 36.097sec would have given her third place in the Women Elite class and she is only 17 years old.

Round six: Cameron Wood and Laura Smulders take the victories

Sunday. New day. New race. New chances. It was back up the big hill for another round of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup and new chances for success. However, with a full day of racing in the legs from Saturday, fatigue would be an issue on the Sunday.

In the Men Elite category, Carlos Ramirez (COL) crashed out in the qualifiers and couldn’t give the local crowd what they came to see. In fact, the only Colombian to make it to the Men Elite final was Diego Arboleda who ended up off the podium.

Up front it was Cameron Wood who used his good start to engineer himself into the best position for a memorable victory that was his first-ever UCI BMX Racing World Cup win. Veteran Joris Daudet (FRA) finished second, while Izaac Kennedy (AUS) turned a bad Saturday into a good Sunday by putting in a fine effort for third place.

Laura Smulders is no stranger to winning and added a 26th victory to her UCI BMX Racing World Cup track record. Alise Willoughby and good friend Lauren Reynolds (AUS) completed the podium. The trio took off from the rest of the pack and stayed out of trouble until they crossed the finish line.

In the Men Under 23 race, Mauricio Molina (CHI) got the win he was looking for, while in the Women Under 23 race, Veronika Sturiska repeated Saturday’s victory, this time in 36.296sec. Once again, the time would have given the precocious 17-year-old third in the Women Elite class. Pure talent.

The last two rounds of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup will once again take place at Pista BMX Carlos Ramírez on 1-2 October 2022.