London Olympian and current world number seven ranked BMX rider Lauren Reynolds is set to bring the intensity to rounds five and six of the BMX Australia National Series in Shepparton this weekend.
The event in regional Victoria will mark just the second outing for Reynolds in 2016, after the Rio hopeful recently competed in the UCI BMX Supercross Oceania Championships in Auckland, where she placed third behind Kiwi Sarah Walker and fellow Aussie Olympian Caroline Buchanan.
While the Oceania title was decided by a fierce three-race final format, the event in Shepparton will see both rounds conduct heats and finals, with Rio hopeful Reynolds saying that it will be good chance to continue refining her race strategy ahead of an international season that will decide her 2016 Olympic fate.
“My first event of the year was in New Zealand last weekend and I had to be aggressive in all three races as they were all finals, all important and it was a tough battle with Sarah and Caroline,” Reynolds said.
“This weekend will be a chance for me to work on things from training and review what I have been doing, as well as comparing the data from my performance this year, to what I have on file from previous years at Shepparton.
“Although this weekend isn’t critical to my chances of making the Australian team for Rio, it is a great opportunity to get more racing done, execute my race strategy and push myself while mixing it with the other elite riders.
“In saying that, I can definitely gain some valuable points from the weekend, so I can hopefully assist my standing internationally.”
Reynolds highlighted that Shepparton, unlike other tracks in Australia, commands a higher level of fitness from competitors due to its long straights and wide profile.
“I’ve raced here a few times and always liked it. It’s a wide open track with a long, fast straight that requires lots of pedaling and plenty of horsepower,” she said.
“It’s a great race to be at, and it’s fantastic to be racing the National Series there. It’s forecast to be hot this weekend too, so that along with the physicality required of this track could be fatiguing.
“It will be a good chance to go over some mental drills and preparation before international racing gets underway.”
It won’t just be Reynolds in the women’s elite as the one to watch this weekend. In the men’s elite class the battle for the series title will hit fever pitch as Victorian’s Josh Callan and Brandon Te Hiko chase down Illawarra rider Kai Sakakibara who holds a slender lead in the overall standings.
Meanwhile the future stars of the sport in the junior elite categories will also be on track, the standout in that crowd being Saya Sakakibara in the junior women’s class as she looks to add to her flawless run of four victories so far. In the junior men’s category it is Victorian Hayden Fletcher who holds a handy 115-point lead, which he will hope to defend from Queensland’s Joshua Boyton and NSW rider Andrew Hughes.
Round five of the BMXA National Series will be held on Saturday February 6 (racing starts at 1200), while round six will follow the next day on Sunday February 7 (racing from 10am). Both events will be live streamed via BMXA TV.