The UCI BMX Supercross World Cup returns to Manchester’s National Cycling Centre on 18-19 April for the first of five rounds in the series.
A five-strong Great Britain squad will join some of the world’s best BMX riders for two days of racing at the indoor arena.
Last year saw a Great Britain double as Liam Phillips and Shanaze Reade won the time-trial and supercross events in the men’s and women’s events respectively.
Reade, who is currently racing in America, will be absent but Phillips returns as world champion after winning the title in Auckland, New Zealand last year.
He is joined by Kyle Evans and Tre Whyte in the elite men’s field with Charlotte Green and Abbie Taylor racing for the Great Britain Cycling Team in the elite women’s event.
British Cycling Olympic BMX coach Grant White believes the event represents a fantastic opportunity for the Great Britain’s athletes.
“We’ve had great support at every British event that's been here,” White said. “In the last few years there's been a lot: the world championships in 2012, the Olympics, the world cup and at every event we've had fantastic support.
“It's going to be special. There's some good development with the academy athletes that are coming up underneath Liam so to have that home support for them, hopefully they can make another step above.
“Last year Liam and Shanaze won the world cup and everyone went away happy but when we are in our day-in, day-out grind you look past it and strive to become better, you've got to focus on the next race. It's like war out there I guess, on bikes - we've got to get ready for that.”
Elite men - Start list
Liam Phillips returns to the event that in 2013 gave him his first world cup win, going on to finish third overall in the world cup.
More significantly, Phillips followed the win by ending a 12-year wait for a British elite men’s world champion in Auckland. The 25-year-old has admitted expectation will be different as he wears the rainbow jersey.
“It's very different coming into this season from last season,” said Phillips. “This year it is different in the sense that I'm wearing that rainbow jersey.
“I work extremely hard away from the track and I know I'm able to compete at this level. For me it's about going out and doing my thing and enjoying the occasion.
“For me it's just a massive honour to race in front of a home crowd with the best athletes coming to race here in Manchester on a track that I train at every day.”
Joining Phillips for Great Britain will be 20-year-olds Kyle Evans and Tre Whyte. The Great Britain Olympic Academy athletes had their first taste of world cup action at the National Cycling Centre last April.
Having gained experience on the world cup circuit, Whyte says he is better placed coming into this year’s event and has one eye on a place in Saturday night’s final.
“I'm getting stronger so I just need to put that on to the bike now.
“It's our home track. We train on it all the time. I’m bit stronger than last year, a bit more experienced so I'm aiming for a bit more to be fair. I think I can put in a good ride.”
World time-trial champion Connor Fields has travelled to Manchester to start the defence of the overall world cup title he won in 2013, as has Dutch rider Jelle van Gorkom who finished second overall last year.
Olympic bronze medallist Carlos Oquendois of Colombia and France’s 2011 world champion Joris Daudet will also be at the start gate.
Elite women - Start list
With no Shanaze Reade, Great Britain Olympic Academy Programme riders Abbie Taylor and Charlotte Green will make up the Great Britain squad for the elite women’s completion.
Both Taylor and Green reached the semi-finals last year though both have outlined their desires to go one better this time.
Green, 19, said: “The first world cup I raced I didn't really have much pressure. I just wanted to go out and do my own thing and just do the best I could do.
"And now - it's still the same - I've just got to go out and do my best but there's a bit more pressure there and I really want to make the final.”
Taylor, who has a bronze medal to her name from the 2012 world cup round in Abbotsford, Canada, said: “A good performance would be to make the final, so top eight.
“It’ll be good if I can make the final here. I can judge myself against the best in the world.”
Australian world champion Caroline Buchanan returns to the world cup having decided to miss the 2013 competition.
Buchanan was elite women’s overall world cup winner in 2012 with a remarkable record that saw her podium in all four rounds of the competition.
The 23-year-old did appear in last July’s world championships and took her first world title in New Zealand.
Olympic silver medallist Sarah Walker has also made the journey from the southern hemisphere. The New Zealand rider also has a strong world cup record, winning the overall title in 2011 but like Buchanan missed last year’s series.
Australian Lauren Reynolds, Olympic bronze medallist Lauren Smulders, American Alise Post and France’s Manon Valentino are also on the start list.
The competition format
- In the elite men’s competition, the top 16 ranked riders from 2013 go straight through to Saturday’s 1/8 finals. Those 16 will face-off in the time-trial superfinals on Friday evening. Liam Phillips (ranked third) is Great Britain’s sole rider in the top 16.
- The remaining field compete in the qualification motos on Friday with 48 joining those already qualified in the 1/8 finals. Great Britain’s Tre Whyte and Kyle Evans both start at this stage.
- In the elite women’s competition, the top eight ranked riders from 2013 go straight through to Saturday’s 1/4 finals. Those eight will face-off in the time-trial superfinals on Friday.
- The remaining field compete in the qualification motos on Friday with 32 joining those already qualified in the 1/8 finals. Great Britain’s Abbie Taylor and Charlotte Green both start at this stage.