Published: 18 April 2013
Report: Scott Hobro
Video: Eddie Allen/Simon Powers
British Cycling Olympic BMX coach Grant White considers the Manchester UCI BMX Supercross ‘a fantastic opportunity’ as Great Britain start the journey to the Rio Olympic Games on home territory.
Nine riders have been named by British Cycling for the opening round of the world cup series, which takes place on 19-20 April, the first time it has frequented the National BMX Centre where Great Britain train.
With the potential complications of travelling removed, all six of Great Britain’s Academy riders will compete in addition to Olympians Liam Phillips and Shanaze Reade. Under 16 world champion Quillan Isidore, currently on the Olympic Development Programme, has also been handed a world cup debut.
“We travel usually to world cups all around the world,” said White, the London Olympic test event in 2011 the last time a UCI BMX Supercross event graced the UK.
“To have a world cup in our home town and home track that we train on day in, day out, it’s a good advantage for us.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us and we’ve got a bunch of young Academy athletes were if we can get little bits of confidence boosting from racing on our home track I think that is going to fast track their development.
“They’ve got a long way to go over the next four years to try and be medal contenders in Rio. It’s nice not to travel away for once and we’ve got lots of support here in the UK and I think it is going to be a fantastic event.”
With Olympic qualification points not distributed until the 2015 season, White foresees the next 24 months as a development phase, crucial if Great Britain is to then earn the maximum three places for men and two places for women on offer for each nation in the Rio BMX events.
Santiago Del Estero (Argentina) in May, Papendal (Netherlands) in June and Chula Vista (USA) complete the world cup schedule for 2013 and White appreciates that Manchester represents a rare opening to hand supercross experience to a myriad of athletes.
“Now we are looking at that four year process through to Rio because this is the start of that,” White said.
“It’s an opportunity for all of our riders to participate in the world cup whereas when we go to Argentina we will take a very small field, Papendal might be a mixed field but they all get the opportunity to show us what they are capable of in a home environment. Hopefully we start off on the right foot.
“We’ve mapped out our plan for the four years, what we want to achieve and the first couple of years is about building.
“We’ve got Liam and Shanaze who are podium level athletes and they are medal contenders if you like now, they still need to develop and get better but our Academy is about the groundwork now.
“You can split that four years into two years of development so to get an opportunity like this, hopefully it can fast track their development, but still there’s lots of hard work to be done.”
Olympic champions Maris Strombergs and Mariana Pajon will be absent but defending men's world cup champion Connor Fields has travelled, as have world champions Sam Willoughby and Magalie Pottier, guaranteeing an authentic elite level run out for Great Britain’s riders.
“Post-Olympics, this year might potentially have a bit of a smaller field in there but I think predominantly it will be all the top guys,” White commented.
“In the main I think it is going to be a really big test.”