Disaster in Rio
2016 Olympic ‘Test Event’ delayed … then some racing … then cancelled because of a little rain.
Most of the World’s top BMX Elite athletes started to arrive in Rio this week for the Olympic BMX Test Event. Their first look at the track happened Friday afternoon when they were invited to walk it before practice later that day. It didn’t take long for thier images and thoughts to creep onto social media … the track is ‘not raceable’, it’s ‘too dangerous’ and it’s ‘sub par’ was the over riding feeling.
Lithuania’s Vilma Rimsaite was one of the first, posting images of a riders meeting and stating …
“This will go in the books.. All the world’s top BMX’ers are finally uniting to not even try the Olympic track out until at least some of the changes will be made. To extreme. Too dangerous.”
It was quickly agreed by the riders, coaches and the UCI that no one would race the track until some changes were made to it.
Liam Phillips, just crowned the 2015 UCI World Cup Champion, also put out a statement “Today we stood united & that makes me proud. I expressed my views regarding the safety of the track here in Rio on behalf of not only myself, but my fellow competitors. I thank each and every one of them for standing up for the sport we love. We, more than anyone else, want a platform to showcase the sport of BMX. We shouldn’t have to ‘race’ on such sub-standard tracks. Although I feel the sport took a step backwards today with the riders refusing to ride, it was extremely necessary for the riders safety. I am confident that this is a significant turning point for our sport. As a group of athletes, we are united for the first time ever. This minor step back will allow us to take two steps forward and show the World the best of BMX in 2016 on a real race track”.
Edzus Treimanis was one of the few to actually ride the track …
“An interesting day here in Rio. The track is prepared surprisingly bad for this Olympic test event. So most of the riders decided not to do the practice today and wait for some major changes to be made before trying it out.
Although the track was still open for a practice for whoever wanted to give it a try. So I decided why not take a lap or two and see if it really rides as bad as it looks. And yes, it does. In my opinion only the first straight can stay as it is. But rest of the track needs some serious rebuilding.”
Interestingly, Barry Nobles who is the Elite Trax test rider was not in Rio for the event. He rode the Rio track in August and decided to stay in the US and ride trails this weekend.
Elite Trax are currently working on the track in the hope that the event can go ahead on Sunday, a day late, but it’s anyone’s guess whether they can get a track that took months to build to an acceptable standard in one day.
If it does go ahead on Sunday that huge step up will not be an issue … Raymon Van Der Biezen “The race on Sunday will not be on the pro-section for sure. Men also ride the woman 2nd and 3rd straight, because there is not enough time to change everything we want before sunday…”
UPDATE: Racing goes ahead on Sunday … sort of.
Elite Trax managed to salvage something from the track on Saturday, well enough that the riders where willing to race it on Sunday. The time trails went off without a problem although they were as boring as ever until Italy’s Romain Riccardi ignored the cones blocking off the men’s side and blasted down the second straight, over the massive berm jump and over the rather large step up much to the delight of France’s Sylvain Andre which begs the question … why wasn’t the pro section in use? Holland’s Laura Smulders didn’t seem to have any issues with the step up during practice!
The Olympic organisers, the UCI and Elite Trax now have a mountain to climb if they are to turn an Olympic scale disaster into what should be the best event in BMX history … 10 months to go.