Sarah Walker fit for BMX World Cup opener

Last updated 18:13 02/04/2014
Sarah Walker
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
FIT AGAIN: Sarah Walker is ready to race.

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Olympic medallist Sarah Walker is fit and ready to resume competitive duties when the BikeNZ BMX team compete in the opening round of the UCI World Cup in Manchester.

Walker heads a five-strong team selected to contest the championship round at the permanent indoor headquarters for Great Britain BMX to be staged April 18-19.

She will be joined by world championship silver medallist Marc Willers, Kurt Pickard, Daniel Franks and Trent Jones.

Talented juniors Hannah Sarten and Tahlia Hansen are also competing, travelling to UK as individuals although also training with the overall squad in Cambridge.

BMX national coach Ryan Hollows said the squad had been training exceptionally well and itching to get back into competition.

"It's been of tremendous benefit training together in Cambridge and I think we are only just starting to realise the benefits here," Hollows said.

"Sarah is well and truly over her injuries and has been training well. She is in as good a shape as I've seen and hopefully she has used up all of her bad luck from last year.

"We need competition now and the challenge will be reacquainting ourselves with the big jumps of Supercross World Cups."

To that end, Hollows has managed to secure invaluable training time with the Great Britain team on the track for the week leading up to the event.

"We are privileged to have been invited which is fantastic. They have a strong squad to train alongside with the likes of the world champion Liam Phillips and Shanaze Reade."

There's a significant change to the format for World Cup competition this year, with a limit on qualifying numbers that has limited the New Zealand men to four riders, meaning the experienced Matt Cameron is the unlucky rider to miss out.

The top 16 men and top eight women from the 2013 world rankings who are present at the event will receive automatic transfer to the elimination racing on the second day, although they will complete a time trial to determine rankings for the grid draw.

The time-trial system used over the last two years for qualifying has been dropped in favour of the more traditional three motos for the rest of the field with accumulated results filling out the remaining places with 64 men and 48 women to contest the elimination rounds on the second day.

The World Cup will be decided over five rounds this year with Manchester followed by Papendal (Netherlands) in May, a new event in Berlin in June with Argentina and Chula Vista (USA) in September and the world championships indoors in Rotterdam (Netherlands) in July.

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The team will leave on Friday.

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