Published: 29 September 2013
Report: Scott Hobro
World champion Liam Phillips secured third overall in the 2013 UCI BMX Supercross series after finishing eighth at the last round in Chula Vista.
The result was a career best in the competition for the 24-year-old, who missed out on a medal at the United States Olympic Training Centre in California after unclipping from his pedal in the early stages of the final.
British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme athletes Kyle Evans and Tre Whyte were eliminated in the quarter finals and motos respectively.
“Liam rode super strong all day on the highly technical and physically demanding track,” British Cycling Olympic BMX coach Grant White said.
“He felt short-changed after unclipping as his race was over before it even began in the final. It was a highest ever season-end result for Liam and he will be out to improve further in the 2014 series.”
Phillips tweeted after the race: “Everything went perfect until the one that counted! Came unclipped straight outta the gate in the main. Gutted to end my season like that.
“But 2013 has been killer. Won my first World Cup, finished 3rd in the overall World Cup series, stayed injury free & became World Champion!”
Australian 2012 world champion Sam Willoughby won the round but it was American time trial world champion Connor Fields who enjoyed the overall win by means of third place in front of home support in California, as Dutch rider Jelle Van Gorkom took second ahead of Phillips.
Colombian Olympic champion Mariana Pajon added to her list of honours with the round and overall win in the elite women's event.
After finishing 22nd fastest in Friday’s time trial on the replica track of the London 2012 Olympic circuit, Phillips won all three of his motos in heat five as he wore his rainbow jersey for the first time in international competition. He continued the trend in the quarter and semi finals to book his place in the final eight before a frustrating conclusion.
“He had the unclip issue recently in the British Championships also, and this problem has already now been set as a task to resolve before the 2014 season,” White added. “We have a plan in place already and this issue will be resolved.”
A trio of fourth-place finishes were enough for Kyle Evans to qualify for the quarter finals from heat two, though fifth, seventh and eighth brought Tre Whyte’s weekend to an end.
Evans, 20, then exited in the quarter finals, coming over the line in sixth with only four progressing.
“Kyle had a decent day at the office, for sure he could have ridden better, but he can hold his head high on his efforts today,” White said.
“Kyle has improved strongly in 2013 and he’s showing there’s potential for bigger and better results in the future. More hard and smart work ahead, which will be done, and Kyle’s performance levels will continue to improve into 2014.
“Tre didn’t quite put it all together today unfortunately. Racing at the highest level on the world cup stage requires precision and high level execution, and unfortunately it wasn’t quite on the money for Tre today.
“We’ll evaluate the performance when we get home, and ensure we’ve learned all the lessons from the event to assist Tre in becoming a better BMX athlete moving forward.”
Victories in the time trial and racing, Phillips’ first in the series, at the opening round in Manchester in April were the platform for his overall standing. He followed the triumph with a quarter final exit in Santiago del Estero and then reached the semi finals in Papendal.
A historic world title win in Auckland, New Zealand, followed in July before Phillips completed his best year to date in America.