At every UCI BMX Supercross World Cup round, ahead of first practice, track checks are made by the UCI Technical Delegate (TD) to make sure everything is safe and sound before the athletes hit the circuit at full speed. Yvan Lapraz is the UCI’s TD and is usually the one dealing with riders’ queries, getting creative when mother nature doesn’t cooperate and generally ensuring all runs smoothly. The Swiss former Junior UCI World Champion has plenty of years of BMX racing behind him to understand how racing works and what needs to be done to put on the show.
We checked in with Yvan leading up to the last two rounds of the UCI BMX SX World Cup in Santiago del Estero, Argentina.
What does being a Technical Delegate at a BMX race entail?
YL: It's basically making sure the track is in the best possible condition prior to and during the event. I usually place the white lines and air fences on the track, make sure that the gate works well, and that there is nothing dangerous near the track if a rider goes out of the track.
In case of bad weather, it is my job to decide when to stop if it gets too dangerous, and if that happens, with the PCP [President of the Commissaires’ Panel] and the Race Director, we have to come up with a new schedule for the remainder of the competition.
How often do you need to improvise to make things work?
YL: Pretty often I would say. It goes from patching up the track with your hands and shoes, to making a new schedule when we have to postpone the event because of the weather. We have to come up with the best possible schedule in the time we have.
Do you think you need to have experience as a BMX racer to have a role as TD?
YL: Yes, or at least someone that knows the sport really well, but I do think that somebody with racing experience understands a bit more what the riders need for these big events.
Do some of the riders give you good feedback on tracks, or point out that something is missing?
YL: I like riders who share their thoughts in a productive way, not the ones that post it on social media instead of sharing with the people in charge. I think Sylvain [André] is great, because he will share his opinion with us, but he also understands when we explain why it can't be done this way, or why we do it this way.
Which track, in your opinion, has the best racing surface?
YL: I have to go with a European track that rides well when dry and when it's pouring rain. I would say Papendal, the Netherlands.
Which BMX race was your favourite this year?
YL: Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines World Cup. Very good racing with full grandstands and a great crowd.
What's your favourite track of all time?
YL: The Beijing Olympic track.
Do you get to ride the tracks yourself?
YL: Yes, I try to ride as much as I can. I bring my bike to most of the UCI BMX SX World Cups in Europe, and I had a few private sessions on the Olympic track.
How long did it take you door-to-door to get to Santiago del Estero for the last 2019 UCI BMX SX World Cup of the year?
YL: A quick 35 hours.
Last words from Yvan:YL: Cheers everyone for putting up with me at the races!