Report: Scott Hobro
Shanaze Reade has said that Birmingham’s UCI BMX World Championships will be ‘harder to win than the Olympics’ due to a larger field of riders at May’s event.
Sixteen riders will set out in quest of women’s Olympic BMX gold in August in London, compared to a potential sixty plus riders at the National Indoor Arena. The 23-year-old Great Britain Podium Programme rider is aiming for her fourth elite women’s world championship after a missed gate in last year’s semi-final meant she was absent from the medals, but did ride to gold in the elite women's time trial earlier in the competition.
“Things are going fantastic for Birmingham, that’s obviously the stop gap for the Olympic Games,” Reade said on her preparations.
“A world championship can sometimes mean more than an Olympic Games - you have the most people competing there. At the Olympics you only have 16 women and 32 men and at the world championships it can be 60 plus women and a 100 plus men that can enter.
"It’s hard – the French are always producing good riders. Mariana Pajon from Columbia is a fantastic rider and Sarah Walker from New Zealand is another rider that always produces good results."
“So the worlds as an event itself are harder to win than the Olympics and also you come away with the UCI jersey. Coming into Birmingham I’m really looking forward to being there, my family only have to travel up the road to watch me compete so it should be amazing.”
A world-class field will make its way to the Midlands with not only Olympic qualifying points at stake but a rainbow jersey. Reade highlighted current world champion Mariana Pajon of Columbia and last year’s runner-up Sarah Walker, from New Zealand, as the main threats but expected every country to raise the bar in an Olympic year.
“It’s hard – the French are always producing good riders. Mariana Pajon from Columbia is a fantastic rider and Sarah Walker from New Zealand is another rider that always produces good results. Those three countries are the ones to look out for – that’s not forgetting the Americans, the Australians and the rest because everyone has stepped up their game in an Olympic year. No one is going slowly but if I had to single a few people out they would be the ones to look out for.
“Hopefully we should all be in fantastic shape – everyone is starting to taper and peak for the big event, the Olympics. You’re going to see dreams achieved and dreams lost as well because for some it is the last chance to get into that important qualification spot for the Olympics so everyone is going to be battling for those points and we will be trying to get another world title.”