Sakakibara - European Cup 3-4 & World Cup 1-2
Back to back weekends of European racing... A tough start to the World Cup Season
It was a giant two weeks of racing in Europe. Starting off with Rounds 3-4 of the European Cup in Zolder, Belgium, and then onto the opening rounds of the World Cup in Manchester, UK. With Olympic Qualification on the line, racing was close and intense. It was a mixed two weeks of results for Team Sakakibara
European Cup 3-4: Zolder, Belgium
The Zolder round of the European Cup is big every year, but this year was even bigger, being the home of the 2019 World Championships. The usual two-day race schedule was stretched out to three days to accomodate for the extra riders, and racing didn't finish until 11.00pm on Saturday night.
With over 30 women and 140 men entered in the elite class, the field was tight. Saya ended up with a 2nd in Round 3, and a 7th in Round 4 after getting tangled up on the first straight resulting in a significant crash.
It was a tough weekend of racing for me - crashing in the final in Round 3, and a bad start causing me to go out in the semi final in Round 4.
Nevertheless, we were both riding extremely well, and we set our eyes on the World Cup season opener on the following weekend.
World Cup Season Opener: Manchester, UK
This was the first time a World Cup had been held held at Manchester since 2016, and the track had been given a makeover. Gone was the big step up into turn 1, the steep landings on the second straight, as well as the crazy technical (and scary) third straight. These sections were replaced by smaller, and much easier sections, which made for a much safer track. However, this also meant that everyone was able to attack the track faster, and the key points moved from the straights on the track to being able to attack the corners aggressively and smart. The racing was completely different to the World Cup racing that we were used to!
It was a particularly tough weekend for Saya. She made a consistent start to her day, but came unstuck in her semi final as she was clipped by another rider over the first jump. She suffered a concussion, which meant the weekend was over for her. A very disappointing start to the World Cup to say the least.
I was feeling fantastic all weekend, but my run ended in the semi final on both days. I was left with no room in the first corner in Round 1, after entering the turn in 3rd place, and in Round 2, finished 5th in the semi final, just missing out on a qualifying spot.
Result wise it definitely wasn't the best weekend for us, but that's BMX. We have to walk away proud of how well we were both riding, and come into the next rounds with confidence.