BMX Racing is a major sport in France. The 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Championships being organised in Nantes, therefore, looks to be a very exciting event. More than 3,000 riders are competing in the Challenge and Master races during the week, before the world’s best Elite, U23 and Junior riders start competing for the UCI World Championship titles during the weekend.

The temporary BMX Racing track in Nantes is a world-class installation. Two start ramps, measuring 5 metres (Challenge) and 8 metres (UCI BMX Racing World Championships), have been built for the occasion. The higher ramp is for the outer track, which is used for the 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Championships. Following the first turn to the left, the track splits into two with the pro section passing close to the grandstands, giving the audience a close-up of the jumps. The two lines then merge before another 180-degree left turn that leads to two triple jumps and a double jump. The finish line is then crossed after a final turn to the right. The last roller is high though and could be decisive towards the end.

Re-match for the French in the Elite Men category?

The 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Championships is an absolute priority for the Elite riders in 2022, especially for the French riders who will be competing on home ground. Becoming UCI World Champion in front of a home crowd is something every rider dreams about but opportunities are rare. The French are undoubtedly among the favourites in the Men Elite category. It was however Dutch rider Niek Kimmann who managed to hold off the French in the Olympic Games and the 2021 UCI BMX Racing World Championships. Five French riders qualified for the Men Elite final at the 2022 UEC BMX Racing European Championships, but none of them made it to the podium. It was instead Kye Whyte (GBR), 2021 UCI World Championship silver medallist, who took the European title in Dessel, Belgium, after having won silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The French still have many reasons to hope for a victory in Nantes. Six French riders can be found among the top twelve in the UCI Men Elite ranking. Jeremy Rencurel (seventh place), Sylvain André (first place) and Romain Mahieu (ninth place) have all won UCI BMX Racing World Cups this year. In addition, Romain Mayet is on third place and 2021 UCI Pump Track World Champion Eddy Clerté on fifth and Arthur Pilard on twelfth place. A full podium sweep could therefore be possible for these local champions.

So who could challenge them? Diego Arboleda (COL) is a possible contender after having won the opening round of the 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Glasgow, Great Britain. His consistent performance has resulted in a second place in the UCI ranking. Young Cédric Butti (SUI) has filled the gap that was left by David Graf who has now become a coach. Kye Whyte is of course also still hungry, especially after showing that he can win major races. And even if reigning UCI World Champion Niek Kimmann is not in the best shape of his career, who would count him out given his successful record?

The Elite Women category: all eyes on Shriever

In the Women Elite class, all eyes will be on Bethany Shriever. After winning Olympic gold in Tokyo and securing the rainbow jersey at the 2021 UCI BMX Racing World Championships, the British rider has confirmed her form by also winning the European title earlier this year. She is clearly at her best at these major standalone events, thanks to her excellent way of coping with the pressure. But at a World Championship, there are of course many very strong candidates that will fight for the title.

Laura Smulders (NED) is familiar with the podium and could very well get there again. She claimed her 25th UCI BMX Racing World Cup victory earlier this year and currently leads the UCI ranking. Zoe Claessens from Switzerland won her first UCI BMX Racing World Cup in the Women Elite class at Papendal (Netherlands) and the recent confidence might boost her in Nantes. Will Colombian BMX Racing queen, Mariana Pajón, sixth on the UCI ranking, be up to the task again in France? Olympic medallist and holder of several UCI BMX Racing World Championships titles, she is a very experienced rider and should always be considered for the podium. Americans Felicia Stancil and Alise Willoughby are also among the favourites.

The favourites are simply too many to list – and that is exactly what makes the 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Championships a great and truly exciting event that cannot be missed.