As expected, the Dutch track offered intense racing, and changes to the first and second straights were well handled by the athletes, who were in the hunt for qualification points for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Round 3 U23: Sturiska & Bearman
In Saturday’s Women Under 23 Women category, Latvia’s Veronika Monika Sturiska claimed the first victory of the weekend. After the race she said, “It's just the first win of the year. This track is amazing, its speed and the jumps are big, it’s technical and I like that and I showed you that. I’m just focusing on myself because I know I can win. I won last year and this year it’s my first win, so let’s keep going.”
In the Men Under 23, New Zealand’s Rico Bearman claimed his 3rd win of the 2023 UCI BMX Racing World Cup, but only after a photo finish… “I got out of the gate really good but coming down the second straight I made a few mistakes. Matéo Colsenet (FRA) had caught up right at the finish and I thought he’d got it but back to the photo finish and I got it done. It definitely wasn’t my best lap of the day, but it doesn’t matter.”
Round 3 Women Elite: Saya rescues it!
After disappointing preparation, Saya Sakakibara (AUS) managed to keep the Smulders sisters behind her in the Women Elite final. Laura pleased the Dutch fans with a second place while Merel also grabbed a spot on the podium.
Sakakibara could not believe she had just won the race: “This win means so much more than just a UCI World Cup win. I mean on Friday I had such a bad training session and I went home and cried for two hours, I don’t know why. I think this track has good memories but also a lot of bad. I think just dealing with all those emotions aside from the stresses of racing was just really a lot and I think I just broke down on Friday. I don’t know what I was able to do but I think I just took one race at a time, literally just broke it down and trusted myself completely. I honestly can’t believe it.”
Round 3 Men Elite: Mahieu all the way
What are the chances of girlfriend and boyfriend winning Elite UCI World Cups on the same day? Well that’s just what happened at round 3! Romain Mahieu (FRA) shot out of the gate and used the wide open first straight to dive into turn one in first position and never gave up that spot. That red leader’s plate on his bike is giving the Frenchman wings for the 2023 UCI World Cup season. How special was this victory for Romain with Saya also winning? “That was actually crazy. I tried to keep it together on the gate because I could see. I saw the whole thing but I’m just so proud of her because she’s been through a lot and seeing her winning today means a lot to me and as much as it means to her I think.”
Round 4: Under 23 winners repeat
Sunday’s Round 4 brought more sunshine to Papendal. The U23 classes were won by Veronika Sturiska and Rico Bearman, who both doubled up in Papendal, grabbing the extra UCI bonus for back-to-back wins on the same UCI BMX Racing World Cup weekend.
The Women Elite victory went to Bethany Shriever who extended her UCI World Cup lead and keeps the red leader plate on her bike for the next rounds in Sarrians, France.
Meanwhile, the French domination continued in the Men Elite racing at Papendal with Joris Daudet first followed by Sylvain André. Daudet is now creeping up to UCI World Cup leader Romain Mahieu (FRA) who still has an advantage of 1552 points over Daudet’s 1437.
After two rounds in Turkey and two rounds in the Netherlands the next stopover of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup will be in Sarrians, France, for two rounds on 23 and 24 September.