The best BMX riders in the world will continue to benefit from high-class standardised start gates at major international events thanks to an extension of a partnership between the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Pro Gate.
Prolonging a collaboration with the UCI which began in 2004, the specialists in starting gates systems will continue providing their start gate for UCI BMX World Championships and UCI BMX World Cups through until 2024. The start gate at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games will also be delivered by Pro Gate.
With races lasting between 30 and 40 seconds, getting a good start is essential. UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) coach, Olympian and 2013 BMX UCI World Champion Liam Phillips, confirms: “The start is everything. Every day, the whole BMX world is trying to find ways to get from the top to the bottom of the start hill as fast as possible.
“Anyone who wins a UCI World Cup, has had a good start. It’s as simple as that.”
Phillips is convinced that having the same Pro Gate start gates at all UCI events has increased the fairness of BMX competition and helped improve the level of racing: “I honestly believe that the standardisation of start gates at major competitions was a huge turning point in the professionalisation of the discipline,” he says.
The UCI WCC BMX track in Aigle, Switzerland, is equipped with a Pro Gate, as are tracks at Olympic training centres and national facilities around the world. Phillips currently coaches five athletes – from Japan, Switzerland and the Netherlands -, who have all qualified for the upcoming Olympics. When not travelling for training camps and competitions, the UCI WCC BMX athletes do around three track sessions a week, with 50% of those sessions devoted to starting technique.
Everyone who has watched a BMX race is familiar with the BMX starting voice commands “Ok riders, Random start. Riders ready? Watch the gate.” This command is followed by four beeps that coincide with the lighting up of four lights: the start gate starts to drop on the fourth beep and light.
With the development in 2007 of the Random Cadence, there is a random delay of between 0.1 and 2.7 seconds after the voice commands and before the first red beep / light.
For the athletes at the top of the eight-metre start ramp, it is a question of patience, reactivity and power, all of which require an enormous amount of practice.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Bogotá (Colombia) this weekend will see athletes put that practice to the test in their last chance to gain qualification points for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.
After Tokyo, the season will continue in August in Papendal (the Netherlands) with the 2021 UCI BMX World Championships, followed by the final four rounds of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Sakarya (Turkey) in October where the best BMX riders of the world will fight for the UCI World Cup title.