British Cycling’s Olympic BMX Coach Grant White has told of the excitement within the squad as they prepare to travel to a home World Championships, saying he is upbeat about the chances of a team which largely has not raced since round two of the BMX World Cup in mid-April, instead pointing toward a period of training and performance improvements in preparation for the biggest race of 2012 to date.
White believes British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete Liam Phillips in particular – second in the time trial and reaching the supercross final in Randaberg – is one of a handful of riders at the forefront of world BMX. Should he put together a clean series of races White says he will “be in with a realistic chance,” but adds a disclaimer.
“Anything can happen in BMX and I wouldn’t rule out surprises – we understand that. But at this moment Liam has done the work which gives him a great opportunity to walk away from these world championships with what can be seen as a successful results and performance.
“I think Liam knows through his performances that he’s in the handful of guys that are at the forefront of BMX racing in the world right now and there’s not much between a number of guys. So if he can go and deliver what he’s capable of he’s got a realistic chance of being with those riders and I’d be surprised if your top results didn’t predominantly come from that group. I’d say he’s there or thereabouts, his training results have improved in the last six weeks or so and he’s on an upward curve at the moment.
“We decided after Randaberg to go back into training rather than race and it’s been successful. Norway’s result was good for Liam’s confidence, it was what he needed after a year away from the BMX track and he’s stepped up another notch or two since then so we’re looking forward to laying the cards on the table and seeing how we compare.”
In contrast to Phillips’ season, the world championships will be Podium Programme athlete Shanaze Reade’s first competition of 2012 due to a series of injury interruptions. The defending time trial champion will be looking for the first indication of form before the Olympics and White is sure she has the potential to get back into racing on a positive note.
“Shanaze had a little injury scare last week but bounced back well from that and is in action, doing everything in training and chomping at the bit to get back out there. It’s going to be her first supercross race of 2012 so she’s certainly fresh and keen and ready to go. She’s looking forward to a home world championship – an opportunity which doesn’t come around very often.
“For right now and for what 2012 is about the worlds is about getting back in the game. History has shown she comes to an event and performs well – which is what the plan is – then she’s going to be right up there results wise, her past results speak for themselves. It won’t be easy by any means but we’ll go and get a race in and see where we end up. She’s in pretty good shape physically, she’s had some interruptions but she’s stronger than she’s ever been.”
Eight months on from the formation of the new Olympic Academy, four athletes – Abbie Taylor, Tre Whyte, Curtis Manaton and Grant Hill – will compete in their first senior world championships, with the aim of qualifying through the time trial round and into the motos.
“The Academy guys have had a taste of world cup competition recently and they were on the cusp of qualifying so they’re all in decent shape. They’ve come back from Norway and although they’re not happy that they didn’t qualify, they’ve been working really hard and are looking forward to another opportunity. There are 175 men and they take the top 64 to race head to head so it’s going to take a good solid lap to get through but they’re up for the challenge. Abbie also raced at Papendal and got through qualification quite respectably and we’re looking to add the next step, so that she rides well in the heats to get a semi final spot and see what happens from there.”
Watch the BMX World Championships live from 1900 on May 26.