Caroline Buchanan has been crowned the 2016 UCI BMX elite women’s time trial world champion for the second time in her career, after she beat home Dutch star Laura Smulders and reigning world champion Mariana Pajón of Colombia on the track named after the latter in Medellín, Colombia.
This year’s world championships also double as the selection event for the Australian Olympic Team, today’s result sending a clear message of Buchanan’s intent to qualify for her second Olympic Games in tomorrow’s main event.
However it was Buchanan who led the Aussie charge and showed that lightning does strike twice as she yet again won a time trial world title in an Olympic year, her first coming at the 2012 world championships held in Birmingham, United Kingdom. It’s a coincidence the Aussie will take confidence from ahead of tomorrow’s racing.
“Coming into the last Olympic Games in London I had won the time trial in Birmingham and it was a massive confidence booster,” Buchanan said.
“Yesterday in practice I had a bit of a rough time, and almost pulled the pin early on in the session due to close calls with crashes, but my coach Wade Bootes told me to write it off and said ‘make sure Caroline turns up tomorrow’.
“This track is quite technical and I had a few little mistakes in my qualifying lap, so knew I had room to improve for the final, which I did. It was a nervous wait at the finish line, especially when Mariana was racing, but when she crossed and I saw the green box next to my name I was super stoked.”
“That’s my sixth world title overall, and I am honored to be pulling on the rainbow world champions jersey again. I am dialed into the track now and ready for tomorrow.”
The world championships have been a key Olympic selection chance for the Aussies and with a time trial world title and a second place to her name, Buchanan is now front and centre for a ticket to the Olympic Games in Rio.
Buchanan & Queenslander Melinda McLeod, the two finding themselves as Australia’s only hopes in the elite finals. McLeod rode to a credible eighth place, while Buchanan edged USA national champion Alise Post on the line as both followed home national hero Pajón.
While it wasn’t the gold medal Buchanan had been gunning for, today’s final may well have been a tantalizing appetizer for what could be on the menu at the Olympics in less than 68 days time, with Buchanan, Post and Pajon now ready to race in Rio.
“That was a big wind up for the final. Alise, Mariana, Stefany [outgoing world champion Stefany Hernandez] and myself were all going bar to bar down the hill from the start gate,” Buchanan said.
“I had an awesome start down the hill, probably my best of the day and then there was a bit of elbowing with Stefany and that put us both back and gave the others the upper hand. I fought back and down the last straight Alise went left; I went right and came through for second.
“I really learned a lot about my competitors strengths and weaknesses today. This track is a lot harder than Rio, we’re at a higher altitude and the track is flat, it has been the biggest challenge before the Olympics.
“Today was really high pressure, good racing and I have had a really consistent day and now that it is all fairly set, I am stoked to be looking to Rio while in really good form.”
At the end of the day all eyes were on the Australian elite women as Buchanan laid down a result consistent with the strong form she has shown throughout 2016.