British Cycling Olympic BMX coach Grant White is adamant Liam Phillips and Shanaze Reade can add to their Manchester UCI BMX Supercross wins over the rest of the season.
The Great Britain riders were imperious over the two days of racing at the National BMX Centre, victors in Friday’s time-trials and Saturday’s racing to complete a clean sweep in the opening round of the competition.
With the next instalment in Santiago, Argentina on 10 and 11 May followed by trips to Papendal, Netherlands (15-16 June) and Chula Vista, USA (27-28 September) plus a world championships in July, White considers both to have the all-round expertise to build on their early season exploits.
“Liam and Shanaze are fast athletes and they’ve both got that delivery skill, good psychological control, good potential to continue on and get some more solid results,” White said.
"If we look at it in a four year process to Rio, this year and next is about going out and proving they can win medals at world cups and world championship."
“If we look at it in a four year process to Rio, this year and next is about going out and proving they can win medals at world cups and world championships and prove those delivery skills. This is a great start, but there’s a lot more to go yet.
“We prepared for a world cup. The training for a long period of time has been structured towards this to get the season off to a good start. We saw nothing but out athletes getting faster and faster and better in every regard over the last six months. They’ve worked well from a training point of view and then they went and delivered and that’s exciting as well.”
The conquest for Phillips at Great Britain’s training base was his first ever win in a world cup competition whilst for Reade it was a welcome return to the podium in the series, having last won at the London Olympic test event in 2011.
White acknowledges that a home track offered Britain’s riders an edge in competition but argues that the preparations undertaken could be equally functional to any course in the world.
“We’re in our home facility but it is still world cup racing with world class riders and you never ever take that for granted that you’re going to win,” White commented.
“It’s so much hard work and yeah, maybe there was a bit of an advantage in that it’s our home track but at the same time there was so much more pressure for Shanaze and Liam, more than any other athlete here. So surely they have to counter each other a little bit.
“I don’t think within the team I felt the pressure was there because we race these events all the time and you get used to the world cup - an eight metre hill, a supercross track, and you go through the process. It’s a BMX race. It doesn’t matter where it is, the process is the same.
“And these aren’t just words, these are our beliefs.”
UCI BMX Supercross dates
Santiago del Estero (ARG)
Chula Vista (USA)
There were also promising performances from British Cycling’s Olympic Academy Programme athletes. Abbie Taylor reached the elite women’s semi-finals, as did Olympic Development Programme athlete Charlotte Green.
Tre Whyte, Kyle Evans and Daniel McBride made it to Saturday’s quarter-finals while Curtis Manaton, who led for a large part of the time-trial qualifying, was unlucky to crash in the motos.
Under 16 world champion Quillan Isidore also exited in the motos after successfully making the last 64 and White commended the gains made.
“I think the time trials for the Academy guys showed that they can ride BMX bikes well, that they have good track speed,” White assessed.
“The big difference between time trial and racing is the two and a half seconds between the gate and the bottom of the hill. That is so much more crucial in the race. At the moment you’ve got these young, developing athletes against big men - they need to get bigger, stronger, more powerful.
“We’ve got a great facility, the support staff and the athletes are committed to working hard and to get some really nice feelings out of a world cup here is going to add more fuel to their fire back in training as we kick on with the next phase now.
“This world cup is a nice tick to say they all delivered well, they know they are progressing, we monitor them constantly. I said back in December, when we come to the world cup in four months' time I think you are going to see some really good things from the Academy athletes and I think we did see this.
“There is still a good period of time between now and the start of Olympic qualification [expected to start in 2015] to do some foundation work to get them to a position, at that time we can go to all the competitions.
“Between now and then the Academy will get a smattering of international experience here and there but their biggest gains need to come in building their engine.”