Britain’s Liam Phillips became the first man to win back-to-back BMX Supercross World Cup titles following the final event of the season at Rock Hill in the United States.
The 26-year-old headed into competition with a commanding lead in the overall standings having produced a series of excellent performances at the previous four events, and he comfortably reached the final which sealed his second successive title.
However, he was unable to round off his campaign in style after unclipping his pedal on the opening straight of the race, which took him out of contention and allowed Latvia’s Maris Strombergs to seize control of the final.
Strombergs, who claimed Olympic gold at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 in the discipline, looked like coming under pressure from Joris Daudet and Amidou Mir but a collision between the French duo saw the former crash out of the race, while Mir lost speed and would prove unable to catch the leader.
It allowed Strombergs to finish well clear of the field in 34.01sec with Canada’s Tory Nyhaug and America’s Connor Fields, who finished in times of 34.75 and 34.82 respectively, completing the podium positions.
Despite securing the overall title with a total of 865 points, leaving him 130 points clear of The Netherlands’ Niek Kimmann, Phillips expressed his frustration regarding the final race of the season.
“Thanks to all my fans,” he said.
“It’s been a long season, I’ve had a fantastic season but at the moment I’m a little bit bitter about that last race.”
Reigning world champion Mariana Pajon came into the event with a narrow advantage in the women’s standings but the Colombian ensured she would not give up her position by claiming victory ahead of her rivals in the closing race.
Pajon found herself behind America’s Alise Post, who began the day just 30 points adrift of the World Cup leader, but the world champion found a gap to overtake the home favourite in the first turn with the manoeuvre seeing Post crash out.
However, Pajon then found herself overtaken by her other rival, Stefany Hernandez of Venezuela, but she fought back to claim victory in 35.68 after a thrilling sprint finish.
Hernandez ended just 0.08 behind the Colombian to take second, while The Netherlands’ Laura Smulders completed the final podium of the season in 35.93.
Pajon’s triumph saw her secure the World Cup title with 965 points ahead of Hernandez and Post, who ended with 875 and 825 respectively.
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