Great Britain’s Liam Phillips, who broke his collarbone at the world championships in Birmingham in May, is through to tomorrow’s semi-finals of the men’s Olympic BMX competition, qualifying as one of the two top riders in his group.
Today’s quarter finals at the BMX Arena at the Olympic Park in East London split the riders into four groups of eight, with the top two in each group after three races going through automatically, while the rest faced another two races to determine the qualifiers.
Phillips, drawn in the second group, wasn’t able to get the better of the USA’s Connor Field in their three heats, but finished second to the American on each occasion for the three to go through automatically.
Also qualifying from their group after having to complete the full series of five races were Andres Jiminez of Colombia and Latvia’s Rihards Veide.
"I had lots of fun out there today, it's what I dream of really,” commented Phillips afterwards. “I have competed in this sport since I was five. I still can't comprehend it now, 6,000 people have paid to come and watch, it's really special.”
“It's a good start but I'll draw a line and look forward to tomorrow. I've been on the receiving end of a lot of crashes but you try and block it out, you focus on your own stuff and take one lap at a time.
"The 16 guys that make it through are going to be in the top 16 in the world, so I am just going to go out there tomorrow and enjoy riding my bike."
On an incident packed afternoon when there were a number of crashes, defending Olympic champion Maris Strombergs of Latvia and Australia’s world champion Sam Willoughby both came through the same group, although the latter needed all five races to secure his spot, with the group won by Twan van Gendt of the Netherlands.
The other men to win through in three races included Edzus Treimanis of Latvia, who had his work cut after finishing outside the top five places in his first two rides. On the third run, however, he claimed second spot behind Raymon van der Biezen of the Netherlands, who clinched a clean sweep of all three races.
Also qualifying within three races were Marc Willers of New Zealand and Joris Daudet from France.
Tomorrow’s semi finals of both the men’s and women’s competitions, where former world champion Shanaze Reade represents Great Britain, follow a three-run format with four riders from each of the two semi-finals qualifying for the final, which comprises just one race.
The semi finals begin at 3pm, with the finals taking place an hour and a half later.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.