BMX races are short and often decided by tiny margins, so the timing is out to 1,000ths of a second. But 2017 World Champion Alise Willoughby left no doubt about the winner in the 2019 Worlds, as she claimed her second title in decisive fashion in Heusden-Zolder (BEL) on Saturday.
Reigning World Champion Laura Smulders of the Netherlands was the favorite, racing so close to home. But Willoughy jumper everyone at the start – crucial in BMX in order to stay clear of crashes – and ran away from Smulders to finish the final in 34.701, well up on Smulders’ 35.146.
There was no reserve for Willoughby, she jumped just off the end of the run and screamed, put her hands on both sides of her face and had the astonished look of “I did that?” She did indeed and is now a favorite for the Tokyo BMX title.
The men’s final was even more stunning. Dutch rider Niek Kimmann looked very much the favorite and a big crowd of supporters was in the stands. But countryman Twan van Gendt, a 2012 BMX Olympian, escaped at the start and just shredded the field, winning over Kiemann and everyone else with an astonishing gap of more than four-and-a-half seconds.
He was also wild with joy after winning, coming over to the loud Dutch crowd, raising his arms in victory and throwing his riding his riding gloves into the crowd. It was the first BMX world title for the Dutch since 2015, when Kimmann won it.
Willoughby’s victory is her second and ties her in her own household with husband Sam Willoughby (AUS), who won world titles in 2012 and 2014! Summaries:
UCI BMX World Championships
Heusden-Zolder (BEL) ~ 23-27 July 2019
(Full results here)
Men: 1. Twan van Gendt (NED), 31.345; 2. Niek Kimmann (NED), 35.454; 3. Sylvain Andre (FRA), 38.482; 4. Jeremy Rencurrel (FRA), 40.949; 5. Kye Whyte (GBR), 41.021; 6. Anthony Dean (AUS), 1:06.031; 7. David Graf (SUI), 3:15.557; Joris Daudet (FRA), did not finish.
Junior Men: 1. Tatyan Lui Hin Lui (FRA), 32.254; 2. Oliver Moran (AUS), 33.209; 3. Nathanael Dieuaide (FRA), 33.335.
Women: 1. Alise Willoughby (USA), 34.701; 2. Laura Smulders (NED), 35.146; 3. Axelle Etienne (FRA), 35.165; 4. Judy Baauw (NED), 35.751; 5. Camille Maire (FRA), 36.063; 6. Felicia Stancil (USA), 36.771; 7. Saya Sakakibara (AUS), 2:13.634; 8. Mariana Pajon (COL), 2:52.206.
Junior Women: 1. Jessie Smith (NZL), 35.653; 2. Agustina Cavalli (ARG), 35.862; 3. Zoe Claessens (SUI), 36.589. Also: 4. Payton Ridenour (USA), 36.923; … 6. McKenzie Gayheart (USA), 38.882.