Montpellier is ready to welcome the hundreds of thousands of spectators that usually come to the FISE (International Festival of Extreme Sports) event. The banks will be filled with people who get to watch multiple urban sports including the UCI World Cup for BMX Freestyle Park and Flatland which are two of the headliners of the event running 25-29 May and culminating in the finals over the weekend.
For most of the Tokyo 2020 Olympians it will be the first time back together for a competition at the highest level. The park in Montpellier, home of organiser and UCI partner Hurricane, is a big one promising multiple boxes, walls, lines, spines and quarters to provide an ideal playground for the new tricks that the riders will bring. With the Paris 2024 Olympics already in mind it will be good to see where the riders stand.
Park: men’s favourites
Amongst the men’s favourites at Montpellier, Australia is sending a big squad including Olympic gold medallist and 2021 UCI World Champion Logan Martin. Brandon Loupos has recovered from a knee injury and will be shooting for a final spot as will Kyle Baldock, Alec Danelutti, Josh Matthews, Jake Wallwork and Liam Quinlivan. They have all been riding at the new Hot Box indoor training facility at the recently opened Hurricane park on the Gold Coast. Preparation is key and for that the Aussies can be relied upon.
Tough competition is expected to come from the USA with Olympians Nick Bruce and Justin Dowell bringing the heat together with Daniel Sandoval, Pat Casey, Brian Fox and youngsters Kaden Stone, Marcus Christopher, Bryce Tryon and Jacob Thiem, who have all been riding hard and are ready to show it on the contest floor.
But will they be ready to take on the hometown hero Anthony Jeanjean? With the French crowd behind him, Jeanjean will surely push his riding to the next level. Add in more talented names such as Daniel Dhers (VEN), Declan Brooks (GBR), Kenneth Tencio (CRC), Kevin Peraza (MEX), Jose Torres Gil (ARG), Marin Rantes (CRO), Rimu Nakamura (JPN), Jaden Chipman (CAN) and it’s a difficult job coming up with a podium prediction in the Men Park event.
Park: women to watch
The success of the Women’s Park event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has certainly been an important step along the journey for this category. The competition promises to provide a great spectacle during the first UCI World Cup of the year with the sport’s top riders on show.
The Tokyo 2020 podium will make a presence with gold medallist Charlotte Worthington from Great Britain leading the field followed by the silver and bronze medallists from Japan: the USA’s Hannah Roberts and Nikita Ducarroz of Switzerland. Other Olympians set to make their presence felt in France are Perris Benegas (USA), Minato Oike (JPN), Macarena Perez (CHI), and Lara Lessmann (GER).
A number of the countries that missed out on an Olympic spot will be ready to prove a point in the UCI World Cup. Teresa Fernandez-Miranda from Spain is one of them who will be at Montpellier, as are the Villegas twins from Colombia, Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Agustina Roth (ARG) and Laury Perez from France. Expect them to be in the mix when it comes down to a final spot. The sport’s progression is ongoing and in BMX Freestyle new talent continues to emerge all over the world. Competitions like the one at the Rives du Lez in Montpellier are a good showcase of the current standard of the sport.
They have been preparing hard.
Flatland ready to rock!
The 2019 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup Flatland in Montpellier made a huge mark in the Flatland world, and anticipation is high for the return of the men’s competition. The crowd of thousands created an impressive atmosphere, and that’s undoubtedly helped ensure that the world’s top riders have signed up again for the 2022 edition.
Ice cold revelation Kio Hakayawa from Japan is widely regarded as the man to beat in Montpellier but competition will come from many corners. 2021 UCI BMX Flatland World Champion Matthias Dandois, for instance, the Frenchman who has created his own private riding spot to prepare for the contest season, as well as his compatriot Alex Jumelin who runs his own Flatland school in Montpellier and will be more than at home at the opening round of the UCI World Cup.
Terry Adams (USA) comes from further afield, as do many of the participants: Varo Hernández (ESP), Pakphum Poosa-Art (THA), Moto Sasaki (JPN), Kevin Nikulski (GER), Sietse van Berkel (NED) are just some of the names in the mix with over 30 entries.
Silver medallist at last year’s UEC BMX Freestyle Flatland European Championships in Bochum (Germany), Louise Seigneur will be one of the local French hopes in the women’s competition in Montpellier. The 17-year-old will be accompanied by her twin sister Jeanne, who has also caught the Park virus. Also among the French hopes, it will be interesting to see what Mélissa Froidure – at 34 years old, double the age of her youngest rival - can produce, three years after her top-10 placing at the same Montpellier venue (9th).
Meanwhile Germany’s Julia Preuss, who finished third behind Louise Seigneur at last year’s European Championships, will be looking to get the better of the French athlete this time round.