UCI Cycling World Championships: BMX Racing UCI World Champions on their chances and the Glasgow track

With the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships approaching, we check in with two of BMX Racing’s reigning UCI World Champions: Frenchman Leo Garoyan (Men Under 23) and American Felicia Stancil (Women Elite).

One of the 13 UCI World Championships taking place in Glasgow and across Scotland from 3 to 13 August, the UCI BMX Racing World Championships will be contested at the Glasgow BMX Centre. Here’s what Garoyan and Stancil think of the event and the Glasgow track, which hosted two rounds of the 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Cup.

Garoyan joining the Elite in Glasgow

Last year’s U23 UCI World Champion Leo Garoyan has stepped up to the Men Elite ranks which makes a whole new challenge racing against the fastest BMX riders on the planet…

You’re racing against the Elites now, was that an easy decision to make?

Leo Garoyan (LG): Unfortunately my age made the decision for me. It was the right way for me to have my chance to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

What are the main differences between the U23 and the Elite racers?

LG: First, I want to say that the level at the UCI BMX Racing World Cup is very high and means there is no room for mistakes from the first round to the final. The Men Elite category has a much bigger density of fast guys [than at Under-23 level in 2022].

With so many fast French riders around it must be hard to even make the selection for the French team?

LG: We all have our own story and journey, I’m lucky to have performed in the younger categories (Junior and U23). But we are all on an equal footing and you have to prove yourself all the time and earn your selections through performance at events and in training.

What do you think of the track for the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow?

LG: I really like the track, it’s easier than last year {Nantes, France} but it’s also very demanding. And if I had to choose a straight, I would choose the third, I really like the rhythm section of this straight!

What would be a dream top 5 for you in the Men Elite category?

LG: 1) Me, 2) Me, 3) Me, 4) Me, 5) And me, haha. On a more serious note: 1) Me, 2) Sylvain André, 3) Kye White, 4) Niek Kimmann, 5) Ross Cullen.

Stancil prepared and excited

Felicia Stancil is ready to defend her 2022 Women Elite UCI World Champion title in Glasgow. She recently visited the track to get some extra laps on the recently refurbished track in the lead-up to the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships this August. Not only was there the need to have track time on her bicycle, this also gave time to mentally prepare for the big race this summer…

What is your opinion of the Glasgow track?

Felicia Stancil (FS): For my second time in Glasgow they made a few changes since the UCI BMX Racing World Cup in 2022 and I like the changes A LOT! Some of the gaps between the jumps [on the third and fourth straights] have been filled in and I think it suits all ages better. I’m excited about the changes and our 2023 UCI World Championships there in a couple of months.

How much of an advantage is it to have ridden a track before?

FS: I think it’s a big advantage. I have two months now before the 2023 UCI Cycling World Champs and I know exactly what I need to work on for myself to have the best race in August instead of wondering how the lips [take-offs] and landings of the jumps will be.

Coming back to Glasgow, where are you going to go for good coffee?

FS: I don’t know yet! I need to message Beth (Shriever) or Laura (Smulders), they will know the spots.

Do you feel extra pressure on your shoulders wearing the UCI rainbow jersey?

FS: I feel that there are more people watching me, but I think at the end of the day the pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself.

How does it feel getting to wear the UCI World Champion’s jersey?

FS: It’s a great honour. I already wore the UCI rainbow jersey twice for both my years as a Junior and it was always an honour to wear the rainbow stripes. In all of cycling it’s something universal that people know of, like in any discipline in cycling they know that you are the UCI World Champion. It’s very special.

Not long to go until the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships… are you going all out to defend your title?

FS: I’m not going into the race thinking I have something to defend. The UCI Cycling World Championships are the biggest race of the year so I’m going there to do my best. I am going all in for this race but that’s something I’ve done my entire life at the UCI World Champs.

What's your favourite section on the track?

FS: The second straight. The jump into the second turn got changed [rebuilt to improve safety]. Second straights aren’t usually my favourite section but this one feels good.

Do you believe it's anyone's game once the gate for the final drops?

FS: I do think anything can happen on race day. There are maybe six girls that I believe could become the 2023 Women Elite UCI World Champion. It’s one of those things... who will have the most focus and who really wants it.

So you are one of the six who could win it?

FS: Hopefully! At least it’s my plan.