An NZ 1-2 in the 15-16 category with Rico Bearman and Cooper Merito, photo Nico van Dartel

Rico Bearman and Paul Luttrell won titles for the FIRST New Zealand team on the first day of the World BMX Championships at Zolder in Belgium overnight when all the Cruiser classes were decided.

Bearman from North Harbour and Te Awamutu’s Cooper Merito dominated the 15-16 years cruiser class finishing first and second, while born again BMXer Luttrell, who lives in Copenhagen, successfully defended the 50 years and over class he won last year.

Luttrell first started BMX in 1983 but retired in 1992 before getting on the bike again in 2003. Zolder was his 10th World Championships and confirmation that some things do get better with age.

With temperatures soaring to over 35 degrees, Luttrell reckons being based In Copenhagen was vital to his success. “I’ve been able to get track time in the summer heat, while the rest of the team have come out of 15 degrees back home.”

Like Luttrell, Bearman went through his racing unbeaten winning three motos, an eighth-final, a quarterfinal, a semifinal and then the title-deciding main event.

Bearman’s success was his fifth world title and his first since Rotterdam five years ago. Since then he has not made a final.

“Then I stopped growing and the competition started getting bigger and stronger.”

Now the late physical developer is back on top of the world.

Merito was trying the Cruiser class for the first time and his runner-up position eclipses his previous best at the World Championships – third at Columbia three years ago.

Three other riders made finals with Adam Coker finishing fourth in the 30-34 class; Toni James was fifth in the 17-29 women, where all the other finalists were Dutch riders and Dion Newth came home seventh after a crash while challenging for a podium place in the 45-49 years class. All six finalists had successfully advanced from their semifinals.

The unluckiest rider of the nine Kiwis who made quarterfinals was Abbey Simcock, who crashed while leading in the 13-16 Girls.

The focus now turns to the Challenge Championship classes for the next three days with the males five to 11 years and females five to 13 years in action today, followed tomorrow by the males 12-16 years and females from 14 years with the remainder of the males challenge riders on Saturday.

Paul Luttrell took gold in the 50s class, photo Nico van Dartel

Cruiser Class Results (finals involving FIRST New Zealand riders):

Male 15-16: Rico Bearman (NZL) 1, Cooper Merito (NZL) 2, Pierre Geisse (FRA) 3.

45-49: Jean Ducos (FRA) 1, Jeffrey Bignell (NED) 2, Swann Delmas (FRA) 3. Also: Dion Newth (NZL) 7.

30-34: Charly Gaillard (FRA) 1, Jose Montana (COL) 2, Rick Bok (NED) 3. Also: Adam Coker (NZL) 4.

50: Paul Luttrell (NZL) 1, Vincent Claessens (SUI) 1, Michael Gough (GBR) 3.

Female 17-29: Annemarijne Mohlmann (NED) 1, Suela Ruitenga (NED) 2, Soraya van Hees (NED) 3. Also: Toni James (NZL) 5.

FIRST New Zealand Cruiser class results:

Females, 13-16 yrs: Abbey Simcock (Tauranga) 30; 17-29: Toni James (Waitakere) 5; Selina Pfister (Mountain Raiders, Auckland) 17.

Males, 12 and under: Bruno Nemedi (Tauranga) 28; 13-14: Louis Hunt (Cambridge) 5th in moto; 15-16: Rico Bearman (North Harbour) 1; Cooper Merito (Te Awamutu) 2; James Speedy (North Harbour) 5th in moto; 30-34: Adam Coker (East City, Auckland) 4; 45-49: Nigel Coughlan (Cambridge) 4th in moto; Dion Newth (Rotorua) 7; 50 Plus: Paul Luttrell (Hamilton) 1

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