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Preview: 2024 BMX Racing World Cup gets underway this weekend in Rotorua, NZ

Before the UCI BMX Racing roadshow comes to Australia in just over two weeks, the 2024 international BMX season gets underway this weekend, with the opening rounds of the World Cup taking place in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Here’s a snapshot of what to expect from New Zealand this weekend, and what it means in the context of a big year for BMX Racing.

Riders to watch

Nearly 40 Australian riders have made the journey across the ditch to take on the best in the world. In the elite women category, Aussie hopes will be pinned on Saya Sakakibara (Southlake-Illawarra BMX) and Lauren Reynolds (Bunbury BMX), while junior world championship silver medallist Sienna Pal (Terrigal BMX) will also ride at the elite level for the first time in international competition alongside veteran Erin Lockwood (Nerang BMX).

Sakakibara is defending World Cup champion, while Reynolds finished 11th in the overall standings last year and has continued to podium in the USA BMX Pro Series at the start of 2024. Getting the season off on the right foot for both riders will be critical to Australia’s representation at the Olympic Games.

Australia will have strong compliment of riders in the under-23 women, with national Superclass champion Bella May (Frankston BMX) and Oceania Junior silver medallist Teya Rufus (Maryborough BMX) all making the step up from juniors.

In the elite men, Izaac Kennedy (Nerang BMX) makes his return to competitive racing after rupturing his ACL last July. Kennedy will be well supported by current and former national champions Bodi Turner (Maroondah BMX Club), Max Cairns (Park Orchard BMX), and Jack Davis (Tamworth BMX) to name a few in the category. Another rider to keep an eye on will be New Zealand star Rico Bearman, making the move up to elites after winning the U23 World Cup last year.

Riders to watch is a who’s who of Australia’s up-and-coming talent in the under-23 men, including Josh Jolly (Ballarat-Sebastopol Cycling Club), AJ Donald (Hawkesbury Hornets BMX), Jesse Asmus (Nerang BMX), Noah Elton (San Remo BMX), Tom Tucker (Pine Rivers BMX), and Joel Marsh (Happy Valley BMX).

Why it’s important

With the New Zealand and Australian rounds of the 2024 World Cup just a fortnight apart, many international riders have made the journey down under to compete at both events. This ensures a strong field for both events and highly competitive racing for spectators.

After the UCI cancelled rounds 7 and 8 of the World Cup in Papendal earlier this year, each of the remaining six rounds take on added importance. Strong performances in the New Zealand and Australian legs will put a rider in a very strong position in the overall World Cup standings.

While the honour of winning a round of the 2024 World Cup is on offer, Rotorua will also be a form guide for Brisbane, with the riders showing a strong performance in New Zealand expected to feature at Brisbane SX on February 24-25.

Olympic considerations

World Cup rounds always take on added significance in an Olympic year. Only 24 quota positions per gender are on offer for the Olympics, and while some quota positions are decided by results at the 2023 and 2024 UCI World Championships, most quota positions are determined via international ranking points earned at events like the World Cups, adding huge weight to their importance.

The Games qualification period runs until June 4 this year.Nations ranked in the top two internationally at that date will be eligible to send three riders for each gender. That number drops down to two riders for countries ranked 3-5, while countries ranked 6-10 can send one rider. Australia is currently ranked 8th in the Elite Men category and 5th in Elite Women, but the Olympic qualification takes into consideration both Elite and U23 rankings, complicating calculations.

Rider Quotes

Sienna Pal (Terrigal BMX)I am feeling very comfortable and confident on my bike, especially after a solid training block which I haven’t had in a while after dealing with many injuries last year. Rotorua will be my first ever World Cup, so I'm very excited to start the year with a new experience.

Racing at Rotorua last year for the Oceania’s has definitely put a few key elements and learning points in the back pocket that I wouldn’t have discovered from just training. The track is definitely more SX style with the bigger first straight, so being able to get backside on those jumps is a big advantage. The rest of the track flows well on the women’s side so should make some good fast racing.

Bodi Turner (Maroondah BMX Club)

Coming into 2024, this is a huge year for us with Olympic qualifications on the line. I am confident in my preparation and am excited to kick off these world cups on relatively close to home, and on quite familiar tracks!

I do believe it is an advantage having raced Rotorua last year and to have had plenty of practice on the track. I was in great form for Oceania's and believe I can be riding even better this year. Rotorua is challenging; it's a technical track that demands a lot from you. I think if I can be in a great position in turn one, it will be difficult to be passed around the track. So I will be doing everything it takes to get a great start.

Get your tickets for the Brisbane rounds of the UCI BMX World Cup from 24-25 Feb

How to watch

UCI Event Hub, including schedules and rider entry lists:

Event information

Photos: UCI


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