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BMX racing: Liam Phillips and Laura Smulders review 2017

Liam Phillips - Laura Smulders
Liam Phillips - Laura Smulders

We continue our end-of-year series featuring members of the UCI Athletes’ Commission. BMX specialists Liam Phillips and Laura Smulders take a look back at the year: the highs, the lows and the memorable moments.

Liam Phillips, Great Britain

• 2013 UCI World Champion
• Two-time overall winner of UCI BMX Supercross World Cup (2014 et 2015)
• Three-time Olympian (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016)
• Forced to retire in 2017 due to injury.

Laura Smulders, Pays-Bas

• London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist
• Two-time overall winner of UCI BMX Supercross World Cup (2016-2017)
• 2014 UCI World Champion BMX time trial (and bronze medallist BMX racing).

Personal sporting highlight of my career

L.P. My career highlight was most certainly winning the UCI World Championships in 2013 and wearing the rainbow jersey. A childhood dream!

Liam Phillips - 2013 UCI World Champion

Personal sporting highlights of the year

L.S. Winning the overall UCI World Cup again, after winning it for the first time last year.

Winning two days of World Cup racing in Papendal in front of the home crowd on my, almost, home track, then winning another World Cup the weekend after Papendal, in Zolder.

And finally, finishing second at the last World Cup weekend in Argentina despite crashing before the race started. 

Disappointment / bad moment of the year 

L.P. I crashed in February 2017 and sustained injuries to my hand and wrist. Despite numerous operations, I failed to recover from these injuries, which have been deemed career-ending. A sad way for me to retire. 

L.S. I really looked forward to the UCI World Championships and had never felt so prepared. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan. I think I wanted it too much, and I hit the starting gate in the final. So, the biggest race of the year was a disappointment for me (6th). It wasn’t the result I was going for. 

 My biggest surprise of the year

L.P. My biggest surprise was not recovering from injury. I have been injured a lot throughout my career, but I knew after 5 weeks that this injury was different. I didn’t make the same progress that I had with all my other injuries, and after five weeks, I stopped making progress.

L.S. Winning in Papendal, despite a sore throat and cold. After winning on Saturday, I woke up Sunday with not much energy, and took it lap by lap.  In the final, I had such a good start that I recorded a new fastest time down the hill: a new PR after two days of racing with a cold and sore throat. I really surprised myself. 

 My cycling hero of the year

L.P. Alise Post. Winning the UCI World Championships in her home country after all she’s been through over the past few years. She’s a warrior! 

Alise Post - 2017 UCI World Champion

L.S. Chantal Blaak. I watched the Women’s UCI Road World Championships, and was amazed how Chantal came back from her crash to win the rainbow jersey. It must have felt like the day was over, but she came back from that crash, still did the job with the team and attacked at the end to win.

Other cycling discipline I would like to try

L.P.  Cyclo-cross. It combines high technical skill, speed, power and endurance. And it's unpredictable!

L.S. Downhill!

I’ve tried some mini downhill tracks and really enjoyed myself, but I would really like to try and see how crazy steep and big the actual World Cup DH tracks are. 

My favourite cycling race/competition of the year as a competitor

L.P. UCI World Championships: one day every year where you represent your country and race for the rainbow jersey… Magic.

L.S. I really like the World Cups: different tracks throughout the year with the same competitors lining up on the gate! Every competitor has his strengths on different tracks. It’s cool to see who is in the best shape throughout the whole year.

Laura Smulders - winner of 2017 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup

My favourite cycling race/competition of the year as a spectator

L.P Again, the UCI World Championships. I think the fans know it means a lot to the riders and this heightens the atmosphere and tension.

My sporting ambition(s) for 2018

L.S. Preparing myself the best I can, and chasing another UCI World Cup title and the rainbow jersey!

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