Cambridge brothers Jack and Bennett Greenough finished first and second in the under-23 final at the first round of the BMX Racing World Cup at Rotorua.
It is the first time the pair has finished on a World Cup podium and incredibly Jack, at 18 years old, is still eligible for Under-19 competition.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Jack, who took the lead off his older brother Bennett, 20, half way through the final.
Their efforts will give New Zealand valuable qualifying points for the Paris Olympics, although their personal goals are more focused on the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028.
“I’m glad the rain stopped before our race,” said Jack, who was the slowest qualifier for the final, starting from lane eight.
Bennett led from the start, but gave his brother a slight gap on the second straight and Jack jumped into the lead as they hit the second corner.
Earlier Bennett had won his quarter and semifinal races while Jack was second in his quarterfinal and only just squeaked into the final with a fourth place in his semifinal
“It was an amazing experience having a family one-two in front of our home crowd,” said Bennett.
“We’ve trained here three times a week. It’s a great way to start the season.”
Australian Noah Elton finished third.
Earlier New Zealand’s three elite men were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage. Michael Bias and Rico Bearman drew the toughest of the four races, with Bias crashing into the second corner when he went for a narrow gap, while Bearman got squeezed on the first straight and never recovered and finished sixth, the same place as Daniel Franks, making a remarkable return to the sport at 30 years of age.
Bias said he was disappointed after two outstanding performances in the heats, and showing what he believes is the best form of his life.
“To have this experience of racing in a World Cup here at home is incredible. I wanted to cap it off by making the final, and felt I was in the form to do so.
“Now I will regroup and come back tomorrow confident of going all the way.”
The cut-throat competition saw Olympic champion Niek Kimmann (Netherlands) also eliminated at the quarterfinal stage, while double Olympic champion Mariann Pajon (Colombia) exited the elite women in her quarterfinal.
Current World Champion Romain Mathieu (France) beat fellow countryman Joris Daudet in the men’s final, while Australia’s Saya Sakakibara took out the women’s final from Laura Smulders (Netherlands) and the current Olympic champion Bethany Shriever of Great Britain.
It proved an outstanding day for New Zealand coach Kurt Pickard who coaches by Mathieu and Sakakibara.
The second of six rounds of this year’s UCI BMX Racing World Cup will be held tomorrow.
Caption: Under-23 winner Jack Greenough (right) and brother Bennett in action in the final at the opening round of the 2024 UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Rotorua today. (Credit: Aaron Gillions)