High winds may pose a significant challenge for elite riders at the UCI BMX World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan this weekend.  While the Challenge (age group) classes have enjoyed excellent conditions at the stunning BMX facility in Baku, the renowned winds in the region whipped up today to prevent the first official elite practice session.

Racing for elites is in the evening with a further practice session scheduled tomorrow ahead of the qualifying motos late at night, with elimination racing planned for Sunday (NZ time).

London Olympic medallist Sarah Walker said more winds over 30kph are forecast for tomorrow in Baku with conditions expected to be better for Sunday.  “This is one of the windiest cities in the world apparently and while it has been great all week, the winds really got up today,” Walker said. 

“They are meant to be stronger tomorrow and good on Sunday.

“We may end up with a one-day event and racing without a practice session which will be challenging for sure.”

Walker heads a 10-strong New Zealand elite team, joined by 2016 junior world champion Maynard Peel and current national champion Cody Hobbs in the elite men while national champion Rebecca Petch and Zoe Fleming round out the elite females.

Four Hamilton club riders are in the junior elite team with Jessie Smith and Baylee Luttrell in the females while Cailen Calkin and Ryan Jordan join Kapiti’s Luey Cotton in the males.

“It is a first time that the championships have been here and the facility is incredible. We were so looking forward to getting on it today.”

Walker said riders have been adjusting their lifestyles to fit with the late racing schedule.  “We are racing from 8.30pm to 11.30pm so I’ve been getting up late morning and going to bed after midnight. It does feel a bit weird to be eating breakfast when everyone else is having lunch.”

She is buoyed by her recent form in Europe but not looking too far ahead at this stage.  “My speed at the world cups was really good and surprised me a bit that I was really competitive in that respect. For me I am just looking at executing my plan, enjoying things and having good clean runs.

“It is just a start back for me and will be interesting to see how competitive I am.”

She has a double interest this time with Smith, who won a world title in her final year as a Challenge class rider, stepping up to elite juniors. Walker has sponsored the Hamilton rider for some years and has taken her under her wing.

“It’s been good for us both, being able to train together and hopefully she has a strong championship.”

Practice is scheduled for late afternoon local time today (1am Saturday NZ time) and racing from 8.40pm (5.40am Saturday NZ time).

Day one racing is scheduled for three qualifying motos for all four grades, with the top four riders in each moto group progressing to elimination racing on Sunday (NZ time from 5.40am).

 

Photo:  Nico van Dartel

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