This week it was announced that Flatland will join the 2019 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships to be held in Chengdu, China, from 6 to 10 November. It feels like a big step forward for the Flatland community considering that some years ago T-shirts were printed stating: “Flat is Dead”.
Those who saw the UCI BMX Flatland World Cup finals in Montpellier, France, witnessed it for themselves: this format of BMX Freestyle has never been so popular. That popularity is confirmed by Hervé André-Benoit, CEO of Hurricane Action Sport, the UCI's partner company for the organisation of the UCI World Cup and UCI World Championships for the BMX Freestyle discipline: "From the first editon of FISE in 1997, the Flat riders shared their passion, forming a close connection with the spectators. The discipline quickly became one of the highlights of the fesitval. Today, buoyed by a scene of experienced pros and young promising talents, it is also becoming popular with women and is expanding rapidly, thanks in large part to the partnership with Hurricane, organisers of the FISE World Series and the UCI World Cup. Academies enable this new generation to accelerate the development of BMX Flatland."
Victorious at the Montpellier round of the UCI World Cup in front of 5000 people, the Czech Dominik Nekolny has welcomed the news that Flatland will be included in the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships: “For me it’s great news. I mean, after attending the Fise/UCI World Cup events this year I noticed that a lot has changed in a good way so this is another great step for Flatland and I am very happy I can be part of that. Let's see what the future brings us.”
Ryan Russell (USA), a qualified UCI judge, explains what the inclusion means: “I think it's great news. Although Flatland is strong, globally, it's great for it to be featured at high-profile events where other BMX disciplines are featured. It's another outlet for Flatland to grab and hold the attention of the mainstream. Whether or not you're a BMX competition fan or care about BMX being in the Olympics, it's more exposure and has the potential to give riders and athletes more opportunities, and for fans to discover BMX, and Flatland specifically.”
Alex Jumelin (FRA) is a podium contender at the UCI BMX Flatland World Cups and runs a BMX Flatland academy in the South of France, with more than 70 students. He has lived the Flatland lifestyle for most of his life and can only agree: “It’s the best way for a legit evolution of our discipline. Flatland riders did a really good job in the past three years and it’s a well deserved accomplishment for the Flatland riders’ community to now be included.”
Legend in the Flatland community, former UCI Flatland judge and now BMX Flatland coach Martti Kuoppa (FIN) sees the big picture: “It is great to see Flatland taking another big step forward with the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships in Chengdu! This makes me very excited for the riders and for the sport of Flatland BMX as it needs to get more organised in order to grow bigger. Well done everyone involved with the process and let’s keep pushing Flatland to the positive direction and bright future!”
At the time of the announcement of Flatland’s inclusion at the Urban Worlds, UCI President David Lappartient said: “The integration of BMX Freestyle Flatland into the programme of the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships marks the appearance of a new UCI World Championships for cycling. I am delighted to see this demonstration of our sport’s dynamism. In addition, the arrival of this discipline reinforces the identity of an event that was created to meet the expectations of a public that enjoys a show and to make our sport even more popular with the younger generation.”
If there’s one person who has helped with the popularity of BMX Flatland in the mainstream and the BMX world, it’s Matthias Dandois from France. The 2018 UCI BMX Flatland World Cup winner takes Flatland BMX to places that have never been touched. Matthias had the following to say about the integration of Flatland at the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships: “I think it’s really awesome that our sport is getting structured with the UCI. It will only bring more attention, media, sponsors... which means more/new riders and progression of the sport.
“Also it’s cool that we finally have a real world championship. There is no debate that this is the official one. I can’t wait to be in China and ride this comp!”
Barre Neirynck (BEL) is looking forward to see the first official rainbow jersey awarded to someone in the Flatland community. He says: “We have the lifestyle riders, the underground flatlanders, and we have the pro athletes. Now riders can choose from every aspect of the sport.”
Flatland is now full circle.
Jean-William “Dub” Prevost (CAN) sums it up: “The light will finally shine on one of the darkest corners of BMX! This is awesome, last time this type of news happened it was for Freestyle Park and the second piece of news that came was that the sport was entering the Olympics! This is great news and I think the Flatland world is rejoicing internally. For now, people are probably wondering how they will prepare for their first trips to China! Chengdu is culturally so vibrant and enticing. Things to discover for days there! I love China! 非常好的新闻！谢谢UCI
There’s no doubt the Flatland community is looking forward to the first official UCI BMX Flatland World Championships and with their energy and positivity they will set the place on fire.