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Star racers jet into SA
- Updated: April 5, 2011
The cream of the world’s BMX racers have flooded into KwaZulu-Natal ahead of the weekend UCI BMX Supercross season-opening clash at Alexandra park on 8-9 April, assembling one of the strongest fields ever for the Olympic qualifying event.
Despite world number ones, Maris Strombergs (Latvia) and Letitia le Corguille (France) as well 2010 women’s World Champ Shanaze Reade (Great Britain) being side-lined by injury, the remaining nine men and eight women in the UCI’s top 10 have jetted into the province in search of crucial points in the first round of the international BMX racing circuit.
Team New Zealand, led by the in-form Marc Willers and Sarah Walker, was one of the first teams to touch down over the weekend and with rules only allowing riders to take to the track for the first time on Thursday, they will look to spend the next few days overcoming their jetlag and acclimatising to local conditions.
Current men’s world number two Sam Willoughby will start as a popular favourite to take home the spoils. He leads a strong Australian contingency along with the likes of women’s number three Caroline Buchanan, Lauren Reynolds, Rachel Bracken and Brian Kirkham.
Despite the noticeable absence of Shanaze Reade and the entire Great Britain team, the European flavour to be added to the mix will again be highly competitive.
Thomas Hamon and Joris Daudet, recently tipped by many of their fellow riders as ‘two to watch’, will be at the helm of a very competitive French team made up by of male and six female riders whilst the Netherlands too shall boast a large contingent again this year with current world number four Raymon van der Biezen leading the way for the Dutch come Friday morning.
As far as numbers go it is the United States who are comfortably the largest team attending the Pietermaritzburg event with their 17-strong team and they will be led into battle by Nic Long, David Herman, Alise Post and Arielle Martin.
World number seven Ramiro Marino may be the lone South American on the men’s top 10 list however the Argentine, along with his 11 team mates, will be eager to face up against the best in the world and show what he can do on an international stage.
South Africa will be represented by nine men and one woman as the quest for the crucial Olympic qualifying points gets under way.