Roberts and Martin claim wins in Saudi Arabia’s first UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup

Hannah Roberts (USA) and Logan Martin (AUS) won the opening round of the 2023 UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup as the discipline made its exciting debut in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia .

Both athletes started the new year where they left off in 2022 when they confirmed overall victories in the UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup at the year’s final event in Gold Coast, Australia.

Saudi Arabia boasts an impressive new Freestyle facility just 20 minutes from the capital Riyadh. Mountains were moved (literally) to create an area for the event and the nearby training ramps with resi sections were well used by riders to prepare for their UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup runs. The plan is for the facility to be used by local riders to develop BMX Freestyle and for international athletes to use for training.

Logan reigns supreme

In the men’s competition, Thursday’s qualification eliminated over 30 riders and confirmed the 24 to ride Friday’s semi-final. USA youngster Marcus Christopher’s (87.5) had the highest score of the day, followed by his countryman Justin Dowell and Great Britain’s Kieran Reilly. Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist Logan Martin made sure he remained in the competition (4th) as did 2022 UCI World Champion Rim Nakamura (JPN).

The next day’s semi-finals saw the elimination of some of the discipline’s big names, Tokyo Olympics silver and bronze medalists Daniel Dhers (VEN) and Declan Brooks (GBR), and 2022 UCI World Championships bronze medallist Anthony Jeanjean (FRA), to name just a few.

The 12-rider Men final was an all-or-nothing game, and it did not work out for all the best qualifiers: Rim Nakamura, Justin Dowell and Kieran Reilly each made tiny mistakes, stopping them from being able to claim a perfect run.

After a crash in run 1 American Brian Fox put the hammer down in run 2 and kept pulling his bangers until the very end which included a.o. 1080’s and double backflip transfers. He was stoked to make his first UCI World Cup podium (3rd).

Marcus Christopher continued his form from qualifications to give the USA another spot on the podium. His 360 quad downside whip was nothing short of amazing and the crowd loved it… he kept it going at full speed until the very end but a mistake in run two meant he could not beat Logan Martin’s first run score of 93.50.

The Australian has worked hard in the off season to be back on top and is now leading the 2023 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup for Park.

Roberts from start to finish

The women’s competition saw 22 riders line up in Friday’s qualifications to try to make the top 12 for the final.

Qualifying in first position was three-timeUCI World Champion Hannah Roberts (USA), followed by Nene Naito (JPN) and Jiaqi Sun (CHN). Germany’s Kim Lea Müller had used her time in Australia wisely to learn new tricks, and qualified for the finals in 4th place thanks to a repertoire rich in backflips, 360s over the spine and tailwhips.

Simply cruising to the next round is no longer a realistic prospect, and eliminated athletes included France’s Laury Perez, Argentina’s Agustina Roth (ARG), Americans Chelsea Wolfe and Angie Marino as well as Olympian Lara Lessmann from Germany.

Saturday’s final saw riders take more risk than usual to try to stand out amongst the high-quality field. For some it worked, while for others the gamble did not pay off, and they were obliged to decide between continuing that risk or being more conservative on the second run.

With all the best tricks packed into one run it was Hannah Roberts who claimed first with backflip variations, double whips, a 360 barspin (truckdriver) and flairs. She also knows how to spin the bars and used the day’s final run to claim the win in Diriyah.

With riders taking 2nd, 4th and 5th place in the final, China again demonstrated the strength and depth of its riders. Collectively, they look like they’re on their way to dominance. Jiaqi Sun completed two solid runs with double whips, flip variations, 450s and many tricks all over the course with her second run score of 87.00 giving her second place. Perris Benegas (USA) completed the Women Park podium in 3rd.

The next stop for the 2023 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup is in Montpellier, France, in May, and will include competition for Park and Flatland.

Full results from round one of 2023 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup