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UCI BMX World Championships: names to watch for

2017 UCI BMX World Championships
2017 UCI BMX World Championships

Less than a week to the start of the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships, the athletes are reaching the peak of their form. Below is a list of favourites, in no particular order, who could make up the final eight of the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s competitions.

Joris Daudet (France): The reigning UCI World Champion proved he was in good shape last weekend when he claimed the European title in Bordeaux, France. His track skills mean he is capable of coming from behind, so even a slight mistake at the start will not necessarily put him out of contention for a top spot.

Connor Fields (USA): The Olympic Champion has not yet won the BMX Racing rainbow jersey as an Elite rider, so the world title is definitely on his 'to do' list. The support of the American crowd could well boost him in his bid to make the final, the podium, and maybe even take the title.

Niek Kimmann (the Netherlands):
The back-to-back UCI World Champion (2014 Junior and 2015 Elite) has gained in maturity. From the moment the gate drops, Kimmann is capable of taking the lead from any lane on the wide-open first straight in Rock Hill to grab the holeshot and never look back.

David Graf (Switzerland):
Excitement is guaranteed if Graf makes the final line-up. The Swiss rider has moved faster than anyone on Rock Hill’s second straight, giving the impression the others are standing still. He is not afraid to make a pass in the last turn either…

Corben Sharrah (USA): Much like Niek Kimmann, Sharrah can cruise through qualification races in a seemingly effortless mode. Once in the finals, he is more than capable of turning it up a notch to surprise everyone. He can also count on the backing of the American crowd.

Sylvain André (France): André has become a faster rider since spending time training and racing in the USA. Winner of his first UCI BMX SX World Cup race in Papendal earlier this year, and third at the European Championships last weekend, the 2010 UCI Junior World Champion is ready.

Maris Strombergs (Latvia): Never count out the Machine, even though luck has not been on his side at every race in 2017. Strombergs is good at the mental game, and the double UCI World Champion (2008 and 2010) and double Olympic Champion (2008, 2012) wants one more win before possibly ending his career.

Twan van Gendt and Dave van der Burg
, both from the Netherlands, are potential finalists. Van Gendt is one of the fastest riders out there but cannot afford to make a mistake. Van der Burg is another power rider who has been making Elite finals at UCI World Cups this year. Both could be dangerous in a final line-up.

Mariana Pajon (Colombia): What can be said about the ‘Queen of BMX’? Double Olympic Champion and multiple UCI World Champion, Pajon has skill and speed. She won't go for anything less than #1 in Rock Hill.

Laura Smulders (the Netherlands): Freshly crowned European Champion in France, the Dutch rider’s confidence is high. The track in Rock Hill suits her fine – she won the UCI World Cup race here in 2016 – and she will be looking for another victory this weekend.

Alise Post (USA): After two third places and a second in the Elite Worlds, the home favourite is ready to claim the title. She has the backing of the American crowd and her fiancé, multi-UCI World Champion Sam Willoughby.

Simone Christensen (Denmark):
She's been on the podium many times, although not often on the top step. If things get hectic in the final, the 2015 bronze medallist could be right there, drawing on her many years of experience to take advantage of any confusion.

Yaroslava Bondarenko (Russia): The Russians have a strong BMX programme with several fast women. However, it was Bondarenko who claimed the Russian Elite Women title this year and is leading the Russians at the UCI World Championships.

Caroline Buchanan (Australia):
The mountain biking Buchanan has done this year might not be the conventional preparation for the BMX World Championships, but she's coming in fresh and has successfully switched between MTB and BMX before: she has won world titles in both.

Stefany Hernandez (Venezuela): The 2015 UCI World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist is almost back to her old self after coming back from injury. She is likely to peak in Rock Hill so watch out for her.

Lauren Reynolds (AUS), Judy Baauw (NED), and Elke Vanhoof (BEL)
are all strong contenders for the final eight. Vanhoof proved she is back from a thumb injury with her second place at the Euros last weekend, but all three are demonstrating good form.

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