Olympian Kurt Pickard has enjoyed a breakthrough victory on the first day of the USA BMX Nationals series in Pittsburgh today.
The 22 year old from Tauranga scored his first Grand Finals win in the US against some of the major competition that he will face in this month's UCI BMX World Championships in Auckland.
Pickard was unbeaten in his qualifying motos and elimination rounds, winning the Grand Final ahead of Americans Corben Sharrah and David Herman.
The win was a boost for the Tauranga rider, who crashed in the quarterfinals at the London Olympics and carried a niggling injury into his preparations in the USA.
"The win means relief, a monkey off my back and it feels good," Pickard said. "Now I have some racing under my belt I am starting to feel more comfortable.
"Looking at the results it paints a picture than I am on target for the worlds. I've grown a lot and learned a lot since I have been over here and I think that's more important than the result itself so I am looking forward to Auckland."
BikeNZ BMX Coach Ryan Hollows said the result was a fillip for Pickard and the team.
"Kurt has been slowly improving, getting better and better and mentally stronger. Today was the day he finally broke through. He was untouchable and everyone trackside was picking him for favourite," Hollows said.
The team will take part in a public fun day at Sylvia Park net Saturday before flying to Brisbane, arriving back in time for the UCI BMX World Championships which run from July 24-28 at Vector Arena.