Haro Bikes Team at UCI World Cup Series Round 3
BMX - Papendal, Netherlands
This past weekend was the third round on the UCI World Cup series in Papendal, Netherlands. This race was one of two races that are remaining on the road to individual Olympic qualification - a pressure cooker to say the least. In the men, there were 132 riders signed up, 64 of them qualified out of Saturday's time trial, while the rest would watch Sunday's race from the sidelines. In the women, there were 42 riders signed up, 32 of them would qualify on to the motos.
Time trials were smooth for Khalen and Brooke, as Khalen finished in the top 25 and Brooke was top 5. Nic on the other hand, not so smooth! It was fairly windy as he loaded up in the gate, and when he came out of the first turn, he came up about a foot short on the first double. As he slowed down and rolled the next two jumps that he would normally jump, he continued full speed ahead at the third straight away. The whole time I was thinking that he was just finishing strong so he didn't look like a quitter, but then he crossed the line in 41st. It was unbelievable and on any normal day, he would have crossed in like 80+. With ten of the worlds fastest guys remaining, Nic was 51st qualifier after the smoke cleared. This would give him last lane choice in his first round of motos the next day.
As the motos lined up on Sunday morning, the skies were partly cloudy and the wind was mild. It was going to be an awesome day of racing. The early rounds of the women saw Brooke battling with her fellow American teammate, Alise Post, where she was top two every moto on a lap of their own. When Nic lined up for his first moto in lane 7 - it was business as usual as he got a good start and vigorously cut everyone off, sending 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Donny Robinson, for a dirt sample. Khalen lined up in lane 8 all through his qualifying rounds, following the same plan that worked for him just weeks ago at round 2 in Norway. Both the boys were leading all their motos and looked strong to be in the final.
In the mens quarter finals, Nic rode a pretty gnarly lap that kept everyone on their toes. He had a good start, but ended up mid pack and quickly following a couple mistakes, went from 2nd to 4th. Entering the last turn, it was unsure if he was going to be able to hold on, but he was 4th at the line by just inches. In the next quarter final, Khalen lined up in lane 8 again and got a strong start. At the first jump, it looked like he was going to win the lap, but the first turn told a different story. As three riders were all entering the turn at once, Khalen was pushed to the top and lost momentum, giving riders behind him a better run at the second straight. As Khalen left the fourth turn heading into the rhythm section, he was in 5th place needing to catch 4th. He set the turn up for an inside line and dove into 4th but ended up elbow locked with another rider, giving the then 6th place rider a chance to pass both of them. Khalen was 5th at the line, and his day ended there. Just to give you an example of how quick you can go from hero to zero at these events, Connor Fields also didn't qualify out of his quarter final. If you don't know Connor, he's the guy who has won the last 3 World Cup time trials, and main events. He is the fastest guy on the tour, but a small mistake can end your day that quick.
Semi finals were nerve racking in the women, after a fellow disgruntled competitor tried to start a fight with Brooke after their 3rd round of motos, we were thinking it may get a little heated on the track come semi time. Brooke got a good start, and was 3rd as the pack left the first turn. Out of turn #2, she remained in 3rd headed into the rhythm but with good speed down the straight, she moved into 2nd and at the line was just a wheel behind first place. On to the main event!!
Nic came out of the middle in his semi final and his start was mediocre. He was mid pack throughout the whole race and much like Khalen in his quarter, was in 5th place headed through the rhythm and into the final turn. Nic pulled the same line on the inside, made the pass stick, and headed to the finish line in qualifying position. About 30 feet before the finish, Nic manualed a jump that he normally jumped, and that caused him to nearly go down in flames - missing out on the main event by 1 spot. Bummer!
Brooke got the best start in her main event, and was clearly winning at the bottom of the start ramp. As the pack entered the first turn, Alise Post was the only girl to jump the 30 foot triple and she went from mid pack to winning when she landed into the corner. This caused the pack to bunch up and Brooke fell victim in the mix. Alise was on a race of her own with the momentum she carried through the corner, and Brooke was fighting her way through the pack to finish 6th.
The World Championships are next weekend in Birmingham, England. This will be the most important race of Brooke's life. There are two Olympic spots available for the US Women team, and with Alise's win, she put a stamp on the "coaches pick" which is the second spot on the team. The first spot on the team is the winner of the Power Rankings, and Brooke is currently in 2nd place by 32 points. Arielle Martin tops the leaderboard going into World Championships, as she was in 2008 when she went to the World Championships and lost her spot on the Olympic team by 1 point. If history repeats itself, and Brooke hits the podium in Birmingham, she'll get the first Olympic berth for the American women.
Nic is no longer a contender in the USA Men Power Rankings, so that leaves two spots left for him. Either he'll win the Olympic Trial on June 16th in Chula Vista, or he'll get the coaches pick. In order for him to get the coaches pick though, he'll need to podium in Birmingham.
Lastly, It looks that with recent results, focus, and consistency, Khalen Young will get the #3 spot on the Australian Mens Olympic team. This has been a long time coming for Khalen, as he threw the 2008 Games out the window for personal reasons, and to focus on the ABA National title that he ended up winning.
The tension next week in Birmingham might not be cuttable with a knife, but I'll be there with fingers crossed in hopes that our team is going together to London.
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