01 August 2022

5 things we learnt about BMX Racing in Nantes

We dusted off our passports, packed our bags, and headed to the 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Championships to find out more about this adrenaline fuelled discipline.

Leo Garoyan [FRA] takes the applause


BMX Racing has found fans globally following its introduction to the Olympic Games at Beijing 2008, as well as a young and loyal fan base in the UK thanks to the success of stars like Bethany Shriever MBE, Kye Whyte, and of course our very own Shanaze Reade!

In 2023 the chaotic, edge-of-your-saddle, elbow to elbow action of BMX Racing comes to the Glasgow BMX Centre as part of the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships – and we’re all here for it!

This weekend we packed up our bags, dusted off our passports and set our sights on the beautiful city of Nantes for this year’s UCI BMX Racing World Championships. Our aim? To uncover just what we can expect next August, and why this adrenaline fuelled discipline might be the most captivating on two wheels next year…

The rainbow jersye and gold medal
What everyone was competing for, the rainbow jersey and gold medal.

1. Home crowds go wild!

Wow, they really do…

Wide open competition and little room for error mean that when it comes to marginal gains, the crowd can power a rider up the standings. Raising the decibels, often means elevating a rider onto the podium!  

We saw that in Nantes with incredible support from the stands, helping the hosts come away from this year’s UCI World Championship with two riders, arms aloft, on the top step.

The crowd cheer on a home favourite
When home country riders were on track the noise went next level

2. The only thing to expect is...

…the unexpected.

2021 UCI BMX Racing World Champions Beth Shriever MBE [GBR] and Niek Kimmann [NED] enjoyed almost a full 12 months carrying the rainbow stripes - the jersey awarded to the current world champion - on their shoulders.

However, two huge semi-final shocks saw neither qualify for the nerve-shredding finale, and promised new champions across both the women’s and men’s elite finals.

Will this year’s UCI World Champions Felicia Stancil [USA] and Simon Marquart [SUI] be able to retain their rainbow jerseys at the Glasgow BMX Centre next August?

Beth Shriever chasing the group of riders ahead of her.
Former World Champion Beth Shriever MBE's exit at the semi final stage was a huge shock.

3. No two tracks are the same

And so it follows, no two championships are the same!

Tracks may have similar features such as a starting hill (to gain speed when bursting out of the gates), rollers (small bumps), berms (banked corners) and rhythm sections (a combination of rollers and bigger jumps, where timing is key) – but each track is as unique as the riders who fly round it.

These individual differences are also likely to suit some competitors better than others – it’ll only be in Glasgow in 2023 that we’ll see which can find their flow fastest on our 400m long track.

The track in Nantes
The BMX track in Nantes with it's own distinct course design.

4. Heart in your mouth action from start to finish

Not a single inch of track space is given up easily by riders, as it could be the margin between glory and “better luck next year”. This is very much a contact sport!

In Nantes we saw how strength of riders can play a huge part in coming out on top as France’s Leo Garoyan tussled elbow to elbow with Chile’s Mauricio Molina Vergara before the final corner.

Garoyan finished 1st, Molina Vergara ended up last after losing his rhythm in the coming together…

With such frantic action, spills on track are pretty common, and can often wipe out more than just the one rider.

This ain’t for the faint of heart.

Riders take a spill during the race
Riders are tough, and taking a spill is all part of the fierce competition.

5. Prepare to get emotional

Was someone cutting onions nearby?!

Leo Garoyan [FRA] standing in front of a packed stand conducting the cheers and applause from the stands was an iconic moment, but it was Felicia Stancil’s emotional journey that got our eyeballs all sweaty…

Crossing the line in first position by a matter of one hundredth of a second – it took several minutes for it to even begin to sink in that she’d just become world champion. Still in a state of shock, and teetering on the verge of tears during her post-race interview, she exclaimed “I need to call my dad!”

That one got us going…

Felicia Stancil can't believe she won
Felicia Stancil can't believe that she has just become UCI World Champion!

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