Bmx Stars Peaking For World Championships In Adelaide

Postby Melissa_Theuriau on Thu 23/Jul/09 11:01am

Leading New Zealand BMX stars Marc Willers and Sarah Walker are in top shape for the UCI World Championships that start in Adelaide today.

The Challenge (age group) racing begins today with the elite world championships set down for Saturday with kiwi competitors taking a look at the track for the first time yesterday.

BikeNZ head coach Ken Cools said the 310m track which has been laid indoors at the Adelaide Showgrounds will likely need some modifications before Saturday’s elite racing.

“I think they will need to change some parts of the track. The pro sections are not flowing as well as it could,” Cools said.

His elite riders won’t practice on the track until tomorrow afternoon following the Challenge world championships that finish tomorrow morning.

“They will take it easy and get a feel of the track first and then begin to dissect each part of the track in the two one-hour training sessions. We will spend a fair bit of time on the third straightaway in particular which is proving a bit difficult.”

Cools said he is pleased with the high performance squad of riders led by Beijing Olympians Willers and Walker.

“Both of them are really peaking at the right time. Sarah is riding the best that I have seen from her in training. She looks strong, is really on to it in training and in good head-space right now.”

Walker, a bronze medallist last year and fourth at Beijing, will be looking for her third straight podium placing at the world championships after her silver in 2007.

She has recovered well from a virus late in her New Zealand preparation and has been working hard on taking a more dominant role in racing.
“I am pretty pleased where I am at right now. I’ve check out the track which looks pretty cool and right now I can’t wait to get out there and race,” Walker said.

She goes in as the current world number one in the rankings with her main opposition expected to come from Beijing silver medallist Laetitia La Corguille, fellow Frenchwoman Eva Ailloud and leading Canadian Samantha Cools, sister of New Zealand coach Ken, who has been training at the UCI base in Switzerland.

There’s hope that Willers can battle through continued shoulder problems for the championship.

“He is still managing the shoulder injury and is scheduled for surgery later in the year,” said Cools. “Right now though he is probably the most prepared of any of our riders in the team and we hope that he can finally get some good fortune and show everyone what he is capable on.”

Willers, 24, has seen his world ranking slip to 31 after a series of crashes at key events including the crash that injured the shoulder and sidelined him from much of their European campaign two months ago.

The Cambridge rider is now based in California where he trains regularly with Olympic medallists Maris Stromberg (Latvia) and Donny Robinson (USA).

They are expected to provide strong competition along with American Mike Day, the Beijing silver medallist, current world No 1 Ramiro Marino (ARG), North American No 1 Nick Long, European No 1 Martin Scherpen along with leading Australian Luke Madill.

The junior men, junior women, elite men and elite women have a 55 minute practice session each on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning with competition starting at 1pm local time on Saturday with qualifying motos, eighth finals, quarterfinals and main finals to be completed by 5pm.

The New Zealand team is:

Elite, men: Derek Mellish (Sunset Coast, waiuku), Kurt Bagby (East Coast, Auckland), Marc Willers (Cambridge), Matthew Davies (Christchurch), Michael Williams (Pakuranga), Richard Gould (Hamilton), Tim Ferguson (Cambridge). Women: Sarah Walker (Rotorua), Victoria Hill (New Plymouth), Tania Carson (Rotorua).
Junior men: Andrew McKenzie (Rangiora), Geoffrey Beaumont (Cambridge), Kurt James (Cambridge), Shane Eady (Whangarei), Reece Montague (Cambridge), Stephen Murphy (Cambridge). Junior, women: Alexandra Williams (Pakuranga), Elyse Imber (Cambridge).
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