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World number one ranked BMX rider Marc Willers crashed out of official practice today ahead of the final round of the UCI Supercross World Cup in southern California.
The kiwi star crashed heavily when he under-landed on the first main jump, re-injuring the shoulder than required major surgery last year.
The California-based Willers, who has trained and raced at the US Olympic training facility in Chula Vista many times, said there is no serious damage although he will need to ride through the pain barrier in competition tomorrow.
The rest of the BikeNZ squad all enjoyed strong practice sessions today in readiness for tomorrow’s time trial qualifying.
Supercross World Cup women’s leader Sarah Walker had a faultless day, nailing the key jumps and is in good shape for racing, according to BikeNZ BMX Coach, Ken Cools.
Walker, 22, has a comfortable lead going into the last round after winning the final in The Netherlands, placing third in South African final and second at the Olympic test event final in London.
This year the new time trial qualifying system has also carried points towards for overall World Cup honours.
Ironically Willers, who has always preferred racing to time trials, had focussed on this element in his bid to overtake Supercross World Cup leader Joris Daudet (FRA). The New Zealander is in second place on overall points, 54 behind the Frenchman.
He was focussed on the best lines in official practice.
“I’ve jumped it so many times. It’s pretty demanding with a 14m clearance. I came up a little short the first time and then nailed it the second time,” Willers said.
“But on the third run I was a couple of feet short on the landing and hit hard and couldn’t hold on. I went over the handlebars and fell on my shoulder. It was the same shoulder that I had the reconstruction done.
“I really thought that I had done some serious damage. But the doctor said there was no damage, just bruising although I am in a heap of pain right now.”
Willers said he would re-evaluate tomorrow but expected he would be able to ride.
“If I can get through qualifying then I have another day to recover for racing. I am hoping I can take a full part in things.”
Willers will be joined by Tauranga’s Kurt Pickard, Cambridge’s Kurt James, Pukekohe’s Trent Woodcock and New Plymouth’s Matt Cameron in the elite men’s competition while Walker will fly the flag in the elite women’s competition.
The top 64 men and 32 women from time trials progress to racing the following day, with the top 16 having a second timed run for the Superfinal to secure points and seeding order for racing.
The riders compete in three motos on Sunday (NZ time) with the top 32 men progressing to quarterfinals, semis and final while the top 16 women move through to semifinals and final.
It is also a big weekend for Walker, Willers and coach Cools, who have all be nominated for the UCI BMX Annual Awards in their respective categories.