Winners of 16 elite UCI BMX Racing World Championship titles are among a glittering final field to contest the opening double-round of the 2024 UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Rotorua.
A massive entry of over 200 riders from 27 countries has been confirmed for the first-ever UCI BMX Racing World Cup in New Zealand, to be staged at the new Te Papa o Te Kauri BMX facility at Whakarewarewa on 10 and 11 February.
The two-day dual world cup competitions form one-third of the remaining ranking points for riders to cement qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with the remaining UCI BMX Racing World Cup double-headers in Brisbane, Australia and Tulsa, USA.
International riders leading the way include BMX Racing superstars led by the legendary Colombian rider, Mariana Pajon Londono, 32, who is a double Olympic gold medallist and triple UCI BMX Racing World Champion.
The elite women’s field has also attracted two other remarkable riders who have been at the top of the sport for over a decade. American Alise Willoughby is a double UCI BMX Racing World Champion and silver medallist, at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, joined in Rotorua by Laura Smulders (NED), the 2018 UCI BMX Racing World Champion among her five podiums as well as a bronze medal in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The trio continue to prove that age is no barrier to success in this demanding sport, with the challenges of the younger brigade led by two outstanding 24-year-olds in current UCI BMX Racing world and Olympic champion Bethany Shriever from Great Britain, and in-form Australian Saya Sakakibara, the 2023 UCI BMX Racing World Cup overall champion.
It is a similar situation with the elite men’s competition, led by fabulous Frenchman Joris Daudet, 32, who won his first UCI BMX Racing World title as a teenager and added a second in 2016 among six other podium placings.
Other proven performers include dynamic Dutchman Niek Kimmann, a two-time UCI BMX Racing World Champion in 2015 and 2021, two-time UCI BMX Racing World Cup overall champion and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games gold medallist.
Current UCI BMX Racing World Champion and World Cup overall winner, Romain Mathieu adds to a powerful French contingent. Other standouts include 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Champion Simon Marquart from Switzerland, double Olympic medallist Carlos Ramirez Yepes from Colombia, American rider Corben Sharrah, who has been at the forefront of the sport for over a decade, winning the UCI BMX Racing World Champion title in 2017 and UCI BMX Racing World Cup overall honours in 2016.
There is a powerful pack of 37 riders from across the Tasman, with 27 riders from France, 16 from USA, 12 from Switzerland and 11 from Colombia to show the global interest in the event.
There are 18 New Zealand riders competing led by Megan Williams (Rotorua), the 2023 UCI BMX Racing World Championships podium placegetter in the U23 category, who along with the UCI BMX Racing World Cup men’s U23 overall winner Rico Bearman (Auckland), both move to the elite category.
There are nine New Zealanders in the under-23 men and seven in the elite men and one each in the under-23 and elite women.
Organisers said there has been strong interest in tickets, with over 1000 tickets sold for each day and only a limited number remain available.
Tickets from $10 (plus processing fees) for under 14 years and $25 (plus processing fees) for adults.