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Willoughby wows with World Cup win
Official BMX Australia News Release
Just when no one dared to think he could do any better than his amazing record breaking rides last season, young BMX phenomenon, Sam Willoughby from Adelaide, came up with another impressive win in the first round of the World Cup Supercross season in Madrid. The 18 year old outclassed Beijing Olympic gold medalist, Maris Strombergs (LAT). As defending world cup series winner, Willoughby did not have it all his own way with a challenge in the final straight by a strong finishing Connor Fields (USA). Fields placed second while Ivo van der Putten (NED) finished third.
“This is how I wanted to start off the season,” said Willoughby however the lead up was far from ideal after a recent move by the 18 year old to train and race in the USA.
“It’s been a bit of a hard build up as I haven’t had a track to ride on. A big shout out to the USA Cycling for letting me ride that Chula Vista track,” he added with a grin after beating their young upcoming star, Connor Fields.
“It (the win) means everything, I have come into it as prepared as I can. It’s always a bit of pressure coming in when you are a defending champion everyone has sort of got their eyes on you.
“To come away with a win early in the season is exactly what you want to do to start things off on the right foot.”
A third place in the time trials helped Willoughby secure himself a more favourable inside starting position on the gate.
“It’s super important to start on the inside,” stated Willoughby. “I had Cristian Becerine (ARG) in my heat and he is the fastest guy out of the gate and down the first straight. So to have the inside got me out of trouble. I definitely was not “hole shotting’ every race. I was lucky to have the inside and get around Cristian in most of them.”
In the final though Willoughby had to start in the middle of the pack.
“I had to come from the outside in the final after a bit of a mistake in the semi. I was just stoked I could get it done,” he added.
Sydney’s Luke Madill also outclassed many elite riders throughout the heats and was the only other Australian to make the men’s final finishing a creditable seventh place.
One of the earliest departures during the heats was Donny Robinson (USA). The current world champion crashed and was unable to continue racing.
Caroline Buchanan from Canberra claimed third after challenging the multiple world champion, Shanaze Reade (GBR) in the final straight. Olympic silver medallist, Laetitia le Corguille was the defending World Cup series winner and dominated the final by a clear margin.
Buchanan was just a half a bike length off Reade across the finish line and her podium finish is the best result for an Australian woman rider to date. The day started well for Buchanan with a third place in the qualifying time trial. From then on her skills on the difficult second straight paid off getting her into the final and close to Reade who struggled with that section.
Buchanan’s performance now places her second overall in the World Cup rankings with 180 points.
Beijing Olympic finalist, Nicole Callisto from Perth, also had an impressive return to the world stage with a fifth place.
Rachel Bracken from Townsville put in some strong performances in the qualifying heats but was unlucky to crash in the semi-final placing 6th just two places away from making it into the final. Bunbury’s Lauren Reynolds was unable to progress into the semi-finals and is currently in 23rd position overall while Bracken is ranked 15th.
This round marks the start of a five World Cup series with the second round in Copenhagen(DEN) on 7 – 8 May.