After six rounds of the 2019 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, the Netherlands duo of Niek Kimmann and Laura Smulders hold the red leader plates. The rounds at the indoor track in Manchester, England, the wide-open track of Papendal, Netherlands, and the covered BMX Supercross track in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, worked out especially well for Kimmann with four wins, a second and an eighth-place finish. This makes him the clear leader in the Men Elite, with 800 points, over 2018 UCI BMX World Champion Sylvain André (FRA) with 680. Switzerland’s David Graf follows in third position with a total of 550 points.
It’s a much closer race in the Women Elite where the red plate has already changed hands multiple times this season. Smulders leads by just five points from Alise Willoughby (USA) and 70 points over Judy Baauw (NED). Manon Valentino from France has had a strong season so far and sits in fourth place only 75 World Cup points behind the leader.
These two Dutch riders are looking super strong, but what is the context within which these winners’ achievements sit?
UCI BMX World Cup racing started back in 1996, and in 2003 the first UCI BMX Supercross World Cup was raced at Woodward Camp in Pennsylvania on a so-called downhill BMX track.
Its strong history had brought forward many heroes: former UCI World Champion and current grassroots BMX advocate Donny Robinson (USA) won two World Cup races, New Zealand’s Marc Willers won his first World Cup in 2007 (Fréjus, France) then two more in 2011, while Joris Daudet (four wins) and Corben Sharrah (five) are still racing the series and could move up the ladder before the season is over.
Sam Willoughby and Liam Phillips have both retired from racing, so their six UCI World Cup wins each is where it will stop for these BMX legends who both have won a UCI BMX World title as well. Both have turned to coaching: Phillips coaches up-and-coming BMX talent at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, while Willoughby’s charges include his wife, Olympic silver medallist and 2017 UCI World Champion Alise Post.
Olympic Champion Connor Fields (six wins) is always hungry for more and he may find his old form before the end of the season to add one more World Cup victory to his CV. Two-time Olympic Champion Maris Stromberg’s eight World Cup wins record had looked hard to beat but Niek Kimmann’s four victories in 2019 shot him into the lead, with nine so far. And at the age of just 23, the Dutchman is not finished yet either.
Laura Smulders’ first UCI World Cup participation dates back to 2011 at Papendal, the Netherlands, with her first win a year later in Abbotsford, Canada. After three rounds in 2019 she has now collected a total of 15 World Cup wins.
After being out with an injury for almost a year, Mariana Pajón (COL) is back in shape, winning the 2019 National BMX title as well as the 2019 PanAmerican title. Her total of UCI World Cup wins sits currently at 10, five behind Smulders. It has been a while since we’ve seen France’s Laetitia Le Corguille on the BMX Supercross track but she won seven rounds back when she was racing against the fastest women on the planet. Legends Caroline Buchanan (AUS) and Shanaze Reade (GBR) always deserve respect with six wins each.
With two more stopovers (four rounds) to go in 2019, a lot can change. The next stop is Rock Hill, South Carolina (13-14 September), the track that hosted the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships. The last round takes the BMX Racing community to Santiago del Estero, Argentina, for Rounds 9 & 10; it will be the last World Cup held at this venue which traditionally has the best BMX race crowd.
Who will add a UCI BMX SX World Cup win to their account? Four more are up for grabs in 2019.