UCI BMX WORLD'S BERCY, Paris, France.
From 1984-1990 the Palais Omnisport stadium with the grass walls hosted the King of Bercy BMX races. 2005 sees the return of BMX in the Bercy stadium with the UCI World Championships. Official titles are going to the Elite men and Elite women classes, the Juniors (men and women) and the Elite and Junior cruiser classes. Friday night had the cruiser categories and FATBMX was there to do a report.
We got allocated a yellow photo bib which allowed us on the infield but in certain sections only. Radio slave flashes are only allowed one meter from the track but we're not playing with those anyway. From the beginning it showed that the UCI racing program is something different from BMX freestyle events; official opening speeches by men in suits, national team coaches and sports doctors, national team uniforms and it seemed like there were 250 UCI officials around the track. It takes a little time to get used to that for sure.
The track was okay but nothing more than that. Bumpy turns that are hard to rail and jumps that allow the 6 years olds and 55+ classes to get around in a safe way. Due to a lack of space the pro section was taken out which is a shame because the crowd loves to see some action and the pros would love to see what they're capable of. The starting gate seems to cause some problems too as the riders need to go as soon as the red light lits. It's not the usual NBL gate. But the situation is the same for everyone and as soon as the cruiser clases hit the track there was plenty of action to enjoy.
For most riders, the cruiser class is just an extra chance to score a title, score some bonus money or get a new bike that they can sell at the end of the season. Only at the most important races of the season they come out. Take South African NHLAPO, he borrowed his friend's S&M cruiser with golden decals and rode straight to the gold medal in Junior cruiser. Training for a few months at the UCI training centre has helped him a lot with his confidence and he was looking good all day. The unsponsored world champ should give Chris Moeller at S&M a call to get a bike for his own. Jeremy Chaffot from France scored a second place just like he did last year in Valkenswaard. Third went to first time UCI World visitor Oie from the USA who was stoked to finish on the podium and will be back for more.
Drama happened in the Elite cruiser class. The motto was to stay on. 5 guys in total hit the dirt. It started off with Godet, Rob van den Wildenberg and Dale Holmes crashing on the first straight right before hitting the first right turn. Paule Lange and Stumpfhauser missed the chaos and entered turn one in the lead. Clement Doby had caught up and was battling for the lead with Paulie Lange. In a last turn move both leaders went down putting Kelvin Batey and Stumpy in a good position. Belgian Bjorn Wijnants escaped the carnage and rode to a save third. Up front it was sprinting to the finish line with Kelvin and Randy, a battle that was won by GT's Randy Stumpfhauser making him the record holder of UCI titles (beating Christoph Leveque's record - Christoph did not race the cruiser class in Paris).
As usual the racers make the show. With a track where anything can happen and with everyone going for first place, it gets exciting, even in cruiser class. The Elite class is coming up tonight. Apparently 8000 tickets have been sold in advance. This should add to the atmosphere of the 2005 Championnats du Monde BMX UCI.
Cruiser class results:
Gold: S. Nhlapo - South Africa
Silver: Jeremy Chaffot - France
Bronze: J. Oie - USA
Gold: Randy Stumpfhauser - USA
Silver: Kelvin Batey - UK
Bronze: Bjorn Wijnants - Belgium