Shanaze Reade calls for changes to Olympic BMX track

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Reade wins BMX test event at Olympic Park

Shanaze Reade claimed an impressive victory at the BMX Olympic test event, but says changes need to be made to the course before next year's London Games.

Heavy rainfall caused schedule delays and several riders remarked that conditions were at times dangerous.

"I'm happy with the win, but for the females the track is on the limit when the wind changes," said Reade.

"It's fantastic we all came through and the British crowd were great, but there's a little work to be done."

The Olympic BMX track was designed and approved by the sport's international federation the UCI, with the aim of "pushing the boundaries" of the sport.

It features an eight-metre high ramp at the start, followed by a series of jumps, bumps, tightly banked corners, an innovative underpass in the women's races and a platform jump for the men's event.

However, the main concern appeared to be over the lack of protection from the elements riders experienced during the straights, where BMX riders perform the majority of their jumps.

Mariana Pajon of Colombia, the 2011 world champion, fell victim to the course, suffering a hard fall in the women's final and leaving on a stretcher.

Reade was not alone in expressing apprehension. Sarah Walker, who finished second in the women's race, said the course could "get ugly" on a windy day.

"I don't really agree with it," said New Zealand's Marc Willers, winner of the men's race.

"It's certainly not your traditional BMX track and I certainly feel that we could have done differently.

"Surprisingly everyone stayed up going through the course, but I think there's definitely potential for expositions to happen - we got lucky today."

Debbie Jevans, director of sport for the London 2012 organising committee (Locog), said it was too soon to say whether changes would be made, but that cyclists' views were being considered.

"The track is a long course so there is the possibility to make changes and we will do so if it's decided that's right," she said.

Despite the testing conditions, which saw rain delay the start of the day's action by around four hours, Jevans insisted that there were many positives to be drawn from the event, which still hosted a near capacity crowd of 2,500 people.

"The inclement weather gave us a great opportunity," she added.

"We went through everything - changed the schedule, the format, worked with spectators and arranged for the velodrome to be opened up so that the crowd could shelter there."

"All-in all this was an excellent event for us from a testing perspective."

Reade's victory at the test event, which doubled up as the third round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series, comes after a disappointing World Championship campaign in Denmark last month.

Her build-up was hampered by a wrist injury and then a pedal slip in the semi-finals saw her fail to defend the title she won in 2010.

The 22-year-old from Crewe said: "For me it [the test event] ranked just as highly as the Worlds because if you can perform a year before the Olympic Games in the same site, then why can't you do it in 2012?"

The fourth stage of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Series originally planned for Sarasota, USA has been cancelled, so the tour will return at the end of September in Chula Vista, USA.

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