BMX: Two-time Australian Olympians Caroline Buchanan and Lauren Reynolds will race in Australia for the first time this year at next week’s National BMX Championships at Sleeman Sports Complex in Brisbane.
Buchanan and Reynolds took time off after their Rio campaigns that ended in the semi-finals, before returning to racing in the USA and in Buchanan’s case, also racing on mountain bikes around the globe.
The veteran pair will line up against defending Australian elite women’s champion and 2017 National Series champion Leanna Curtis, in what is shaping as one of the races of the weeklong event that will feature almost 1800 riders from 94 clubs nationwide.
Buchanan, who won two races from as many starts on the USA BMX Supercross circuit earlier this year, said she had been keeping an eye on Curtis’ form from afar.
“Lauren Reynolds has had a consistent season on the USA BMX Supercross series and she is always a tough competitor on the big hill,” Buchanan said.
“However I have been watching Leanna Curtis stepping up every race. It will be some great elite women action.”
Curtis said she understood the task that lay ahead, but was not willing to give her Australian title away without a fight.
“My toughest competition will be Lauren Reynolds and Caroline Buchanan, no doubt,” Wollongong’s Curtis said.
“They are our two Olympians and are always really strong and riding really well.
“Defending my national title will be a big challenge but I definitely feel up for it.”
Reynolds gave the Sleeman track her seal of approval and believes mastering the lap requires a good mix of endurance and technique.
“The Sleeman track has always been a great racing track,” the Western Australian said.
“It has a big first straight with some big jumps so you can really open up.
“It has plenty of technical sections and is also fairly long, so it's a battle of fitness and skill. I like it!
Two of Australia’s Rio rookie Olympians, Anthony Dean and Bodi Turner, will line up in the men’s elite event where they will square off against big Northern Territory raised, Sunshine Coast based national series champion Matt Juster.
Dean hasn’t raced in Australia since he was a finalist in Rio, while Turner has been plying his trade in the USA since early in the year.
The action begins with practice on Monday and Tuesday before the final round of the Grands Assault National Series takes centre stage on Wednesday.
Thursday and Friday will feature, Cruiser class events and age group and Challenge events. Championship events with the elite classes, including Buchanan and Reynolds are on Saturday April 29.
Entry to the track is free and spectators are welcome.