The UCI BMX World Championships were held in France for the first time in 17 years, taking the sport's yearly pinnacle event back to one of the powerhouse nations.
The track in Nantes was constructed specifically for this race in the carpark of a convention center, with the only time it being raced on prior to the World Championships being the French Championships two weeks prior.
This event also marked the return of the Challenge Class World Championships, being held in the four days prior to the Elite Competition. The challenge classes have not raced a World Championships since 2019 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The return was greatly received and 20 challenge racers from New Zealand made the trip, highlighted with challenge World Champions crowned; Dion Newth in 45-49 Male Cruiser and Lily Greenough in 15 Year Girls.
An 11-Strong New Zealand Elite team was named, with 8 riders competing. Rebecca Petch (Elite Women) could not race as she was competing at the Commonwealth Games in Track Cycling, Bennett Greenough (u23 Men) had to withdraw due to elbow injury sustained earlier in the season and Louis Hunt (Junior Men) broke his arm whilst training in Paris a week prior to racing.
The racing kicked off hard and fast with qualifying day already showing to be brutal, Jack Greenough (Junior Men) unfortunately crashed in his last chance qualifier whilst in a transfer position which ended his weekend early. Rico D'Anvers got unlucky with track position and was unable to qualify through after riding some very fast start times. Caitlin Georgantas (Elite Women) in her first major international event in the Elite Classes was unable to transfer through.
Baylee Luttrell (u23 Women) impressed in her first round to transfer directly through to the Semi Finals, where she finished up on day 2.
Michael Bias (Elite Men) showed his skills and tactical assets to finish in the Semi Final. A best ever result for Bias and the best finish for a New Zealand Elite Men since 2016.
In the Junior Women class Leila Walker and Megan Williams looked rapid on the track all weekend. Leila tangled with another rider in the second turn in her semi final and fell, ending her weekend just short of the final. Megan cleanly made it through to the final where she herself got tangled up with another rider on the first jump, she crashed heavily and wasn't able to finish the lap. She was awarded World #8.
Rico Bearman was the man to beat all weekend in the Under 23 Men, winning his first round, 1/8th final, quarter final and semi final to be one of the favorites going into the finals. In the final, contact with another rider over the first jump meant Rico was unable to fight up the front of the race. He managed to avoid hitting the ground and finished World #7.
Many of the riders are now entering preparations for the final four UCI BMX World Cup events in Colombia in September and October.
Photo: Nico van Dartel