Published: 9 May 2013
Report: Scott Hobro
Liam Phillips has made the 2013 UCI BMX Supercross title a key goal after admitting his confidence has never been higher since his return to the sport in 2011.
Phillips, who took six months away from the discipline two years ago to try out for the team sprint on the track, continues his season this weekend in Santiago del Estero.
The 24-year-old will seek to emulate the two wins he registered in Manchester in April – his first ever victories in the competition - which propelled him to the top of the overall standings in the four event series.
And with an invaluable and enlightening 2012 behind him, Phillips feels he is in a prime position to put together a sustained run of performances which could see him challenge for overall UCI BMX Supercross honours.
“The overall world cup is in my sights, that’s something I identified after the Olympics,” British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete Phillips said.
“I thought that perhaps not racing in 2011 and going into 2012 I hadn’t raced those guys for 18 months and I didn’t know where the level of BMX was. It’s difficult then to compete and be really confident going into each race knowing you’ve got what it takes to win.
“Looking back, there were numerous races last year that I was potentially capable of achieving more. This year I know where the level is, I know where I am at and I feel confident knowing that I can go into any race and be capable of winning.
A virtual tour of the Santiago del Estero track in Argentina
“You could put that title of world championships on any one of the world cups,” Phillips added on the significance of the world cup which has never had a British winner. “We do prepare slightly differently and our season is revolved around the world championships but as a whole you basically prepare the same for all of the world cup races and they are big hits throughout the year.”
With only three weeks between two elite competitions, maintaining form has demanded the right balance in training from Phillips and his support network of coaches.
Phillips, though, is enjoying the prospect of a demanding summer of competition and is keen to race as much as is feasibly possible. “It was a massive high and you come off the back of that, you almost need to get straight back into training and go again.
“But for me I just want to race, I want to race as often and as many times as I can this year, the more the merrier.
“It’s difficult when we have six months in the off season where we don’t race at all, pretty much after Argentina you could race six weeks on the bounce but it’s impossible to do and maintain your form ahead of the worlds.
“Getting enough racing done is one of the big things for me this year, I feel like I’ve worked so hard over the last few years and I feel I’m now in a position to go to any race and be capable of winning and therefore if that is the case then let’s race as often as I can.”
The weekend in Argentina marks the first ever South American round of the world cup at the outdoor track at the Sport Centre of Santiago del Estero, built in 2011.
Though the course itself will be new to Phillips, the rider from Burnham-on-Sea has experience of racing in Argentina and anticipates a talented field of South American athletes to be on the start line.
“We’ve never raced a world cup there, it was built in 2011. I’ve raced in Argentina before as a kid but this is a new stop on the world cup circuit,” Phillips commented.
“A lot of the South American riders are very good technically, BMX is quite strong is those parts of the world, if you look at Colombia they won medals in both the men’s and women’s [Olympics] and they are good technically on the bike. I am excepting the track to be quite technical and difficult.”
And Phillips isn’t fazed by the prospect returning to outdoor conditions after the comforts of Manchester, having competed for ‘95%’ of his career in the open-air.
“I feel quite comfortable whether there is wind or no wind, ultimately the race is still to the bottom of the ramp.
“It’s no different to here or anywhere and if I get that part of the race right and the rest of it is certainly a lot easier.”