Seven year old Lachlan Stevens-McNabb is the toast of the New Zealand BMX team after snaring a second successive title at the UCI BMX World Championships at Copenhagen today.
The Rotorua rider, who won the six years world title in South Africa last year, led from go-to-whoa to claim his second world crown in the Challenge age group racing.
Despite forecasts for rain – the city has been hit with wet weather of late – today was superb with clear, sunny and hot conditions.
Twenty-one New Zealand riders took part today for riders from five to 14 years, with 17 making it through the three-race qualifying phase. Lachlan-McNabb led the way for the junior ages in a team that grabbed five podium placings from nine finals.
The young Rotorua rider has continued the success of kiwi riders in the youngest grades, following on from North Harbour’s Rico Bearman who won the six and seven years world titles in 2009 and last year.
Today Lachlan-Stevens was unbeatable, winning all three qualifying motos, his quarterfinal, semifinal and final but the seven year old reckons it was a tough ask.
“It was harder than last year,” Lachlan-Stevens said. “There was a lot more riders and all of them had trained really hard and got a lot better. I’m really happy to win though.”
The other medals for the New Zealanders were a silver to Rangiora’s Tahlia Hansen (14 years girls), and bronze medals to Rotorua’s Ngahina Pene (eight years girls), Bearman (eight years boys) and Hamilton’s Kaly Harcourt (10 years girls).
Hansen, like Bearman, came into the championship with the pressure of winning back-to-back world crowns.
The North Canterbury rider enjoyed a win and two seconds in qualifying motos before dominating her semifinal. She jumped out well from the gate in the final but got caught up for racing room and after shaving off some pace to defend her line she found herself mixed up with Margot Hetmanczyk (France) who forced her way past and went on to win.
“I came out of the gate first and was first to the second straight and collided with the French girl who came over on me a bit. She was just faster than me down the second straight and I think she had been all day,” Hansen said.
“I tried to catch her up and got close but not close enough. I am still rapt with world number two. I had world one but she was the better rider on the day.
“To come to a European worlds and come second is excellent. All the European people are so much faster and there’s so many of them. Hopefully next time I will get her.”
The diminutive Bearman found the much bigger competition too much to handle in the final of the eight years class but after placing fourth in the quarter and semifinals, he battled hard to claim third in the final to split the three Americans.
Pene enjoyed her first venture to the world championships in Europe, just edging into the final but them nailing a good performance for third, while Harcourt achieved a consistent day with two wins in the motos, second in her semifinal and third in the final.
The hard luck story was with seven year old James Whyte (Mountain Radiers, Pakuranga) who had two wins, two seconds and a third coming into the final but was squeezed off the track after drawing the outside lane in the decider.
Tomorrow is the turn of the older age groups with 12 New Zealand riders in action in the morning.
The elites get their first taste of the track later in the afternoon ahead of Friday’s final practice session and qualifying time trial.
UCI BMX World Championships, challenge results:
5-6 years: Wyatt Sevens-McNabb(Rotorua) 5th.
7 years: Lachlan Stevens-McNabb (Rotorua) 1; James Whyte (Mountain Raiders, Pakuranga) 8.
8 years: Rico Bearman (North Harbour) 3.
9 years: Zach Paterson (Rotorua) 6th in round of eight.
10 years: Tuhoto-Ariki Pene (Rotorua) 7th in semifinal.
12 years: Zach Kershaw (Papakura) 6th in round of eight; Jayden Fleming (Papakura) 5th in round of eight.
13 years: Carlos Kershaw (Papakura) 7th in round of eight.
5-6 years: Caitlin Flavell (Rotorua) 5.
8 years: Ngahina Rene (Rotorua) 3.
10 years: Kaly Harcourt (Hamilton) 3; Baylee Luttrell (Hamilton) 7th in semifinal; Mikayla Bearman (North Harbour) 4.
13 years: Zoe Fleming (Papakura) 5th in semifinal.
14 years: Tahlia Hansen (Rangiora) 2; Abigail Fox (Gisborne) 4.
CAPTION: Lachlan Stevens-McNabb on the way to victory in the BMX World Championships in Copenhagen today. The image is free for editorial use. Mandatory credit: Kristoffer West