It was a glorious day in Pietermaritzburg. Some 2,000 South African BMX fans were treated to the world’s best BMX racing. It was also a great day for the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series presented by Swatch with an extremely successful first stop of the 2011 edition. But it was an especially glorious day for Corben Sharrah (USA) and Manon Valentino (FRA) who won the first elite BMX Supercross World Cup event of 2011.
Corben Sharrah rose to the occasion to win the grand final of the UCI BMX Supercross at Alexandra park while the young French rider Manon Valentino confirmed her status as one of the hottest properties in female BMX racing by completing a rare double in the women’s division, winning the time trials and the main final.
Sharrah: “The track suited my style of riding”
Sharrah, a quietly spoken 19-year-old from Tucson, Arizona timed his charge to perfection, shifting up a gear in the semi-final where he dominated the Frenchman Joris Daudet who, until that stage, had been setting the pace.
In the final, Sharrah got the hole shot and as he led into the first berm he looked to be in total control. While the pack jostled behind him, resulting in classy Kiwi Marc Willers going down, Sharrah never lost control, racing home to win from Australian Khalen “Wild Child” Young, with time trial superfinal winner Daudet in third.
“This track really suited my style of riding,” said Sharrah as he was mobbed by well wishers from Team USA. “I had a really good gate and won the big battle to get into the first turn first. When I realized I was leading it was all about staying calm and focused. That was the critical part for me. It feels fantastic to win the first World Cup of the season,” he added.
Valentino: “This is totally amazing”!
21-year-old French sensation Valentino was ecstatic after her complete domination in the women’s main final. “This is totally amazing! What a comeback for me!” gushed the former Juniors World Champion, whose first year as a senior was troubled by injury.
In truth she had won the final by the time she had turned into the second straight. From her quicksilver reaction off the start gate to her athletic and fluid pace across the demanding 15 meter triple on the first straight, she was unmatched, and romped home to win by more than a second from Argentinean Gabriela Diaz, with Kiwi icon Sarah Walker earning the last spot on the podium.
Action packed event
Australian ace Sam Willoughby was the shock omission from the main final line-up. He was one of four riders to crash out of the semi-finals in a pileup on the first berm that also eliminated gutsy Canadian Tory Nyhaug, Dutchman Jelle van Gorkom and Joshua Meyers of the USA.
Two podium contenders fell by the wayside in a drama-laden men’s second quarter final, where on-form Frenchman Sylvain Andre and former World Champ Donnie Robinson (USA), who was being cheered on his comeback to the Supercross circuit, were both unseated in spills.
The heady mix of on-track action and music under the blazing sun provided a compelling spectacle for the big crowd that packed into the new BMX venue at Alexandra Park, which will become a permanent BMX facility after the Supercross.
1.Corben Sharrah USA 34.054
2.Khalen Young AUS 34.815
3.Joris Daudet FRA 35.095
4.Raymon van der Biezen NED 35.156
5.Andres Jiminez Caicedo 35.620
6.Robert de Wilde NED 36.026
7. David Herman USA 37.689
8. Marc Williers NZL 1.13.216
1.Manon Valentino FRA 33.714
2.Maria Gabriela Diaz ARG 34.858
3.Sarah Walker NZL 36.116
4.Magalie Pottier FRA 43.085
5.Caroline Buchanan AUS 43.726
6.Vilma Rimsaite LTU 49.473
7.Stefany Hernandez VEN 1.04.473
8.Lauren Reynolds AUS Did Not Finish