UCI BMX Racing World Cup: Round 3 & 4

The 2023 UCI BMX World Cup kicked off earlier this month in Sakarya, Turkey - to which LUX racers Izaac Kennedy and Rico Bearman featured heavily. Fast forward another 4 weeks and we find ourselves back at the top of the hill, ready to unleash more fury, power and aggression in the pursuit of competitiveness and the all-important Olympic qualifying and ranking points. 

Taking place over the weekend just gone at the Olympic Training Centre Papendal, just outside of Arnhem in the Netherlands, the race comprises Round 3 & 4 of an overall 9 round series. 

Aerial shot of the Papendal location, the BMX track sits at the top of the cleared area - screenshot courtesy of UCI BMX Youtube

According to Bart at FatBMX, the Papendal event comprised a record number of racers, ready to rip in to the 'heat' of the northern hemisphere. From all reports, the facility was in primo condition, featuring an 8m high starting hill sending racers into a 10m long double and then leading around a seriously smooth circuit with the most technical rhythms and steep lips/landings you will see on a BMX track. Take a look at the video below to get a feel for the track, I tell you what, that double leading into the second turn looks nasty. Lastly, hard to not notice that there is a crazy amount of pedal space on that first straight - a dream if you have a powerful sprint. 

Look at the size of that hill. Even through a photo at a weird angle, you can tell that this thing is a monstrosity - Craig Dutton photo

Flattened angle of the second turn, with the pro straight visible in centre. This corner forms the landing for the last double of the pro-straight which is a massive jump, but at top speeds becomes dwarfed by the racers - Craig Dutton photo

Day 1 - Round 3 and the conditions are perfect. Starting with the under 23 men, Rico has again dominated throughout the qualifiers and is rewarded with an inside lane come the final. Joined by the force that is France and the Netherlands (taking up another 5 spots in the final), Rico is not phased and once again has a great start and backs it up with power and finesse to lock in that all important lead out of the first turn. This is actually quite an exciting final in that Rico and Colsenet (french opponent) are at each other the whole way, almost swapping the lead a number of times. This continues right until the last straight to which Colsenet finds more pump and ends up coming so close to a win that the UCI technology is bamboozled. After a nervous wait, Rico is confirmed as taking his third win by 1/5th of a second.

Rico with a shriek of elation in taking another world cup win - photo courtesy of Cycling New Zealand

Izaac getting accustomed to the Papendal facility, despite a lack of finals appearances, the kid did LUX and Australia proud - photo courtesy of Navada Photography

Moving on to elite men. Unfortunately, the final does not contain our boy Izaac who suffered the consequences of a missed start. While Izaac managed to compensate for this in the previous UCI Turkey event, it wasn't to be this round. Obviously looking to work his way through the pack, his competitors were not keen on giving him any space, squeezing him in the first turn and giving him nowhere to go.  In not making the top 4 cut out of the semi-final qualifier, Izaac bows out and takes up a bench spot. Onwards and upwards.


Day 2 - Round 4, under 23 men. Believe it or not, but Rico is again a dominant force and slots in to the inside lane for the final. Taking advantage of this position, Rico has another great start and uses that wide open space in the first straight to propel his lead into the first turn. The lap from here is ultimately perfect which sees him take a 5-6 bike length lead to the finish line. It is incredible to be this dominant at the upper levels of BMX, so well done Rico on 4 from 4. Interesting to note that Rico mentions in a post-race interview that he will be making the move to the big boys (i.e. elite men) in 2024 and hopes to continue his form at a UCI world cup round in his home country. Look out for that one!

Rico in a familiar location, out front - FatBMX photo

Rico again in a comfortable position, his new home, number one on the podium - photo courtesy of UCI BMX Instagram

Time for the elite men. It's almost a bout of deja vu for Izaac who again finds it tough to poke his head out the front of the pack come semi-final time. His start lets him down and once again, is unable to make up any ground veering off the track after the first turn in unfortunate circumtances. While he still sits in 8th position overall after 4 rounds, and can hold his head high with 2 x semi-final spots, it is undeniable that this would have been a disappointment for the big fella who ony has eyes for the number 1 spot. 

Nonetheless, the race must go on and its a final captured by France and the Netherlands who comprise 6 of the 8 finalists, remarkable. As the commentators note, these two countries have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to BMX racing. With these odds, and with Joris Daudet in peak form, it is no surprise that he takes the win a mere centimetres ahead of his compatriot, Sylain Andre. 


Honourable mention to the girls who also killed it all weekend, with the Australian Saya Sakakibara taking the win for Day 1 and second for Day 2. Maybe one day she'll link up with LUX, the race domination continues! 

Remember, if all this racing buzz is working you into an excitable fit, we get it! We would love to help you out, look after yourself and click on that LUXBMX online store, the race section is alight with the fastest new gear as ridden by many of the racers in the above event.