Phillips wins first BMX world championship with vintage display
Event: UCI BMX World Championships
When: 28 July 2013
Where: Auckland, New Zealand
How it unfolded
After winning his first ever UCI BMX Supercross in Manchester earlier in the year, Phillips travelled to New Zealand with hopes of fulfilling a career-long ambition and becoming BMX world champion.
At the 2012 championships in Birmingham, the athlete from Burham-on-Sea had crashed out in the moto heats, suffering a broken collarbone which affected his preparations for the London 2012 Olympics.
But at the indoor Vector Arena, a faultless display of BMX racing would see the then 24-year-old take the rainbow jersey and end Britain’s 12-year wait for an elite men’s world champion.
Phillips won all three of his moto heats to qualify for the knockout stages. In his 1/8 final, he again produced an exceptional start to take the holeshot win. Repeat efforts in the quarter and semi finals saw the British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete through to the final eight.
Around Phillips, experienced riders including defending champion Sam Willoughby, time trial winner Connor Fields and Olympic gold medallist Maris Strombergs had all come unstuck.
In the final and with the favoured gate one, Phillips again delivered a textbook start and led into the first corner. Despite pressure from New Zealand’s Marc Willers, the Briton’s technical talent kept the Kiwi at bay and Phillips crossed the line first, visibly emotional as the reality of his achievement sunk in.
What they said
"It feels amazing, the reward for the hours spent training, we dedicate our lives to this.
"A huge amount of credit needs to go the guys at British Cycling from Grant White to everyone else I work with. What you see here is the end product of so much hard work, it’s been a fantastic race, incredible.
“I just wanted to keep the mistakes to a minimum and I managed that.”
Why should this be the British Cycling Ride of the Year 2013?
After a testing 2012, Phillips’ dedication and hard work were rewarded with an historic achievement. He became the first British men’s champion since Dale Holmes in 2001 and completed a career-best season.
The emphatic manner of the triumph, winning every heat en route to the rainbow jersey, was a perfect demonstration of BMX riding and emphasised his merit for the championship title.