Two-time Olympian Sifiso Nhlapo and compatriot Teagan O’Keeffe took part in the final round of the 2013 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Series in Chula Vista, San Diego, at the weekend.
Nhlapo has been struggling to find his rhythm in this year’s World Cup series, barring his 6th place result in the finals of round 2 of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series in Argentina in May.
The 26-year-old felt physically good in the lead up to the final World Cup of the season. The Team MTN-Qhubeka BMX athlete spent the majority of the year in the United States, which served as his base and allowed him the chance to train on the most competitive race circuits in the world.
“Knowing how demanding Supercross racing is on the body and how technical the track was, I knew it was going to be a challenging weekend. If one thing, I wish I had spent more time on a Supercross track in advance to feel more comfortable on my bike on the big track,” he said.
Although he stayed clear of any crashes during the weekend, the 2010 World Champion feels that he rode too conservatively, which he says was not enough for this level of competition. By playing it safe, he did not progress beyond the early stage Time Trial heats, finishing in 66th place, where only the top 64 men progress to the Superfinals.
“I did not feel comfortable on the track at all,” says Nhlapo. “This is the Olympic Training Centre for the USA team so they had a huge advantage on the rest of us. Most of the guys that made it into the main event all have Olympic facilities where they can hone their skills between races, and it was clear on race day who had the upper hand.”
When asked about the world-class Supercross track that is about to be opened at Giba Gorge in KwaZulu-Natal, Sifiso said that it was a step in the right direction for the sport in South Africa.
“I look forward to spending some time over there next season between World Cups so that I can go to races feeling 100% prepared.”
Nhlapo returns to South Africa in November and has high goals as we approach the 2014 season. “My goal is to stay healthy and to be a champion contender. 2014 is the beginning of the 2016 Olympic points accumulation, so it is critical for me to be consistent throughout the years leading up to Rio 2016.”
Photo credit: craigdutton.com