Thumbs up from riders for UCI Urban Cycling
The UCI World Champion for trials Nina Reichenbach is impressed by Logan Martin’s tricks, the UCI World Champion for cross-country Eliminator (XCE) Daniel Federspiel admires the skills of Abel Mustieles, the winner of the last UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup Hannah Roberts stops in her tracks to watch the Juniors tackle the trials obstacles…
The new UCI Urban Cycling, which for the first time brings together trials, BMX Freestyle and XCE, has won over the athletes. Through until Sunday, 230 riders from 35 countries are gathered in Xinhua Park, in the heart of Chengdu and its 11 million inhabitants, capital of the province of Sichuan (Four Rivers), in the south-west of the country. Chengdu, gateway to Tibet also known for its pandas, offers an unprecedented showcase for the three disciplines in quest of greater exposure.
As is the case for XCE, the trials discipline joins UCI Urban Cycling after being part of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships from 2000 to 2016. “Before, we were more on the side-lines of the mountain bike Worlds,” explains the Dutch trials athlete Rick Koekoek, known for guiding his bike to the top of the most improbable urban constructions. “Here we really feel we are at the heart of the event.”
The same impression for Nina Reichenbach, 2016 trials UCI World Champion: “We are all at the same level,” said the German athlete, at Xinhua Park on Friday to support her fiancé Kai Lorenz and who will defend her rainbow jersey on Saturday.
Federspiel bowled over by trials specialists
Daniel Federspiel is wide-eyed. The Austrian, who will try to conserve his title of XCE UCI World Champion on Sunday, is visibly very impressed by the specialists of the trials discipline: “It’s incredible what they can do with their bike. They jump more than a metre onto steps. It’s ultra-technical!”
Nina Reichenbach had never seen a BMX Freestyle Park competition before Chengdu: “It’s super cool. I love their jumps and figures!” On the contrary, Hannah Roberts, winner of the 2017 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup, cannot believe what the trials riders manage to achieve with the obstacles: “It’s a mixture of balance, technique and agility: I could never do what they do,” marvels the young 16-year-old American, favourite to win the first title of BMX Freestyle UCI World Champion on Sunday.
Like the athletes, the spectators appreciate moving between the BMX park, the trials park and the XCE circuit, which loops around the first two competition sites. The venue is compact and deliberately positioned in the city centre where youngsters, families and the elderly are turning out in numbers to encourage the athletes: “This is my fifth time in China,” says Logan Martin, winner of the first edition of the UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup in 2016 and a regular on the FISE circuit. “There is a great public.”
Logan Martin : " Chengdu today, Tokyo in 3 years. It's fantastic »
Joining the Olympic programme for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Games, BMX Freestyle is definitely taking a giant step forward: “I always said that the Games would be something huge. Chengdu today, Tokyo in three years. It’s fantastic,” says the Australian. “The more events there are, the better it is for our sport.”
This bike festival “is what was needed to develop cycling,” concludes Nina Reichenbach. “It’s the future,” confirms Daniel Federspiel.
The Urbans have captivated the athletes. For the next two editions, they will return to Chengdu, the host city through until 2019.