Gold medal hopeful exits in quarter finals, as do reigning Olympic and world champions

Team GB’s Liam Phillips was taken to hospital with concussion after crashing hard during the BMX quarter finals yesterday, ending his hopes of challenging for gold at Rio.

The crash (BBC video here) that sent the former world champion out of the competition happened on the first bend and involved two other big names, Maris Strombergs of Latvia – winner  in Beijing and London, the only two times the discipline has previously been in the Olympics – and Switzerland’s David Graf.

Team GB BMX coach Grant White said: “He [Liam] walked off with our doctor to go for a precautionary check-up. He hit his head in a heavy crash but his collarbone that he injured previously seems OK.

“That’s just our sport sometimes. He wasn’t the only one in challenging conditions with Olympic medals on the line. It comes with the territory of our sport and the riders love the sport. It doesn’t make it any easier but they get used to it.

“He’s faced equally challenging situations in the past but I’m sure this will be pretty raw for a while. He’s in the best shape of his life and I’m sure he’s got plenty of years ahead of him.”

Phillips has since been discharged from hospital.

Kyle Evans, Team GB’s other rider in the event, was also eliminated at the quarter final stage.

Kyle Evans in action at Rio 2016 (copyright Alex Whitehead SWpix.com via Britishcycling.org.uk).jpg

Kyle Evans competes at Rio (copyright Alex Whitehead SWpix.com via British Cycling.org.uk)

He said: “I can’t ask too much more of myself. I delivered out of the start on the last two races but it’s just a shame I couldn’t have done any better and make finals day.

“I’ve loved every minute of it here," he said. "I went to London 2012 as reserve and got experience. My main priority here was stay on my bike, enjoy myself and come away from the event actually smiling and having no regrets. 

Phillips was not the only big name to exit the contest yesterday, with Strombergs failing to make it through to today’s finals and reigning world champion Joris Daudet of France also crashing out.

Strombergs had urged Rio organisers to make changes to the course ahead of the Olympics. Quoted in The Advertiser, he said: “They did nothing. Now we can see, it is what it is.

“Three very ugly laps. I don’t want to put anyone under the bus, stuff like that.

“It’s a good track for the girls but for us guys it’s not what we train for.”

It was a good day for Australia’s Sam Willoughby, silver medallist in London and a two-time world champion, who won all three of his runs.

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.