2000 riders from 40 nations made it to Paris for the 2005 UCI BMX world's. Among them were 138 Elite men athletes, 37 Junior women, 99 Junior men and 51 Elite women. The Saturday night program had all these classes on the track deciding who would put on the rainbow jersey at the end of the day.
I entered a bet and it went like this: Name 8 riders that would make the Elite Men main. 1 point per rider for every rider that actually made the main. You scored 2 points if you had the right rider on the right spot he finished in. My list looked like this:
1. Warwick Stevenson (HARO, defending world champ)
2. Robert de Wilde (Dutch, enough said)
3. Thomas Allier (Home favorite)
4. Christian Becerine (Argentinian powerhouse who did well at the world's in 2004)
5. Florent Boutte (French, doing it for the home crowd)
6. Jonathan Suarez (outsider, wild guess)
7. Bubba Harris (ABA #1)
8. Jason Richardson (always does well at the world's, proving his worth to the UCI)Normally I don't enter bets but with a bit of BMX knowledge I thought I'd have a better chance at this than playing poker. We put 10 Euros in each.
All of my boys made it out of the motos. Step one accomplished. Jason Richardson was the first rider to let me down. He had crashed in cruiser the night before and crashed again in the 1/16th final on his 20 inch bike to place seventh, not enough to transfer to the next round. The W14 plate of Florent Boutte got stuck in the 1/8th final being my second scratch. Warwick Stevenson missed his gate too and could not catch up with the top 4 in his 1/8th final, it was over and out for the 2004 UCI World Champ. I believe everyone else had Warwick on his list of finalists so regarding the bet it would not matter that much. It was a bummer to see him stranded though. I had 5 riders left and they all made it to the semi. That's where it ended for powerhouse Cristian Daniel Becerine who got silver in 2004. Still, picking 4 of 8 for the final wasn't too bad. Robert de Wilde, Suarez, Allier and Harris lined up with Donny Robinson (USA), Mike Day (USA), Jamie Gray (AUS) and Marc Willers (NZL) for the main event.
When the gate dropped it was Jamie Gray who got a slight lead over Bubba Harris. With Bubba getting the inside going into the first right turn he came out in first heading for the second straight. HARO's Jamie Gray had hit the dirt and was out. The speed was amazing and the 8.000 people were on their feet screaming and shouting and blowing horns. Outsider Suarez was in second and De Wilde, Allier and Day battled for third in the second right hand turn. This is where Robert unclipped his right foot to make sure he did not crash. Donny Robinson was sent over the berm and could forget about a podium spot. Heading for the last right turn it was Harris in first when Suarez crashed. Day and De Wilde (still unclipped) went by to finish second and third respectively. 4th went to home favorite Allier and Suarez got back up to finished 5th in front of New Zealand A-team member Marc Willers, Donny Robinson and Jamie Gray. It was an electric race where anybody could have won. The ones who made it out on top were happy, the others were bummed, but that's racing. I ended up with 4 points in the bet which was not enough to score the pot.
The jumps on the track were actually quite good for the women classes. You needed guts (and skills) to jump the doubles and it meant you were faster than those who did not sky over them. This pretty much counted for all jumps on the track starting with the double going into the first turn. At 35, and 10 years older than all other semi finalists, Kerstin Fritscher showed she still has it. Not afraid to dent a rim or two she jumped most of the jumps which got her as far as 7th in the semi. Respect. Her semi was won by Holland's Willy Kanis who was looking good all day. The other semi was won by France's Laetitia Le Corguille, a strong favorite for the title. Maria Gabriel Diaz was looking strong too. The Argentinian was defending her world title and got second in the second semi. As soon as the gate dropped for the final, Willy Kanis checked out. The 21 year old Crupi girl did not have to fear any T-bones from the competition as her lead was too big. Staying on two wheels was all she had to worry about and she did that. Gold for Holland. Renee Junga from Australia got in second. She thought the jumps weren't big enough and would like to see more spectacular tracks in the future to separate the wanna be Olympians from the true Olympian athletes. Laetitia Le Corguille "only" finished on third but was happy with the podium spot.
With 99 riders in Junior Men, the class was almost as stacked as the Elite Men class. The class of 17 and 18 years olds was exciting to watch. All hungy for first, all the time. Freshly crowned Junior Cruiser champion Sifiso Nhlapo from South Africa didn't make it out of his semi this time in 20". His semi transfered the following riders: 1. Martijn Scherpen (NED), 2. Jeffrey Upshaw (USA), 3. Micael Cesar (POR) and Frenchman Benoit Leroy. The other semi saw Jeremy Chaffot (FRA) win this race in front of Mike Brabant (USA), Edgar Bisseling (NED) and Moana Moo Caille (FRA). The riders who made the main were jumping of joy after the semi. They made it seem they already made the podium. There were only three medals to give away in the final. Martijn Scherpen got a great start but had some trouble on the way to the finish line. More people crashed out and Portugal's Micael Cesar, who had a rather poor start, stayed on two wheels and avoided the pile-ups to get the gold. Leroy Benoit finished second with Edgar Bisseling getting bronze.
Last but not least the Junior Women class battled for the gold. The girls from down under did really well claiming all the medals. In third place it was 17 year old Melissa Mankowski[/b from Australia turning her 52 plate into a W3 plate for next year. New Zealand's Sarah Walker got silver again in Paris and Nicole Callisto's training at the UCI World training center in Switzerland has paid off. The Australian girl took home the victory after getting out of the gate from gate 8.
There you have it, the 2005 World's report in the classes that count most.