Rising New Zealand BMX star Rico Bearman has headed to South America in his final quest for the UCI BMX World Cup men’s under-23 title in Argentina.
There are two double rounds of the championships to be staged at Santiago del Estero this weekend and next, with six kiwis competing, mostly in the under-23 category.
Bearman has four wins from five starts this season, with one round at Sarrians in France wiped out with inclement weather conditions.
He takes a 301 point advantage into the weekend and although virtually unbeatable, no doubt the Speedco/Avian professional will want to reassert himself at the pointy end of the competition after finishing sixth in France.
Two strong weekends in Argentina, where he won the World Cup last year, will set the kiwi up for an expected move to the elite class which will get underway with a double round in Rotorua in February.
An Olympic spot for New Zealand is still a possibility and no doubt Bearman will be among a short list for that opportunity.
Joining him in the men’s under-23 division are the Cambridge brothers, Bennett and Jack Greenough. Bennett started strongly in Europe but has just returned to riding after breaking his elbow and collarbone at the World Cup in Papendal.
Rotorua’s Megan Williams, the world championship bronze medallist, is currently fourth overall in the under-23 women in an impressive debut World Cup season. She has three top-five finishes and can still work her way into the top three.
Cambridge teenager Leila Walker makes her return after injury in Europe and will remember her under-23 world cup win in the final round last year.
The sole kiwi in the elite category is North Harbour’s Michael Bias, who was a quarterfinalist in Sarrians, France last month and looking for his season’s best in Argentina.
Round seven starts on Sunday (NZ time) with finals set for 7am NZT, and round eight with a similar timeframe on Monday.
The season concludes with another double round at the same venue next weekend.