Each competitor in the London 2012 BMX event is allowed a single lap of the track to determine their seeding for the later racing rounds. Australia's UCI World Cup leader, Caroline Buchanan, finished the qualifying time trial with the fastest lap in the women's event. The men's time trial followed with 25 year old Dutch rider, Raymon van der Biezen, finishing with the fastest time.
BMX racing events use a time trial in order to keep the faster riders over a track from facing each other in the early rounds of a competition. The fastest riders are awarded a higher seeding, and are placed into later races with slower riders; this is done in an attempt to ensure the fastest riders reach the later rounds, and the best races take place later in a competition.
At London's Olympic Park BMX Track each rider completed a single lap of the course; this lap is timed, and the riders ranked from fastest to slowest. To be given a time each rider must complete a full lap of the track. The women's event moves to the semi-final stage on Friday August 10, and the men move to a quarter final on August 9. The later rounds are contested as races with a mass start featuring eight riders on the track at one time. A high seeding can help a rider progress, but the risk of crashes and falls is high once the racing element begins.
In the men's qualifying round the fastest time of 37.779 seconds was recorded by van der Biezen; no other riders in the men's Olympic qualifying event managed to dip below the 38 second mark. Second place in the event went to the 2011 world champion, and World Cup winner Joris Daudet of France. Third place in the time trial went to van der Biezen's compatriot from the Netherlands, Twan van Gendt with a time of 38.339. The top American competitor in the time trial was Connor Fields, who finished fourth; Nic Long, the winner of the 2011 Olympic Park test event, finished in seventh.
Other notable riders include the reigning world champion, Sam Willoughby of Australia, who completed the time trial in sixth place. Reigning Olympic champion, Maris Strombergs, completed the BMX course in a time of 38.697 seconds for 11th place overall. Strombergs, of Latvia, is one place ahead of the host nation, Team GB's Liam Phillips; injured at the 2012 World Championships, this is Phillips' first competitive race since he broke his collarbone.
In the women's qualifying round Australian Caroline Buchanan finished fastest with a time of 38.434 seconds. New Zealand's Sarah Walker finished second, followed by Colombia's Mariana Pajon. Three time world champion, and favorite for the gold medal, is Britain's Shanaze Reade; competing on her home track, Reade finished fifth in the time trial. Reigning world champion Magalle Pottier finished seventh, followed by Alise Post of the U.S.A. in eighth. American Brooke Crain was the only one of the 16 female riders who failed to finish the course, crashing on the final straight and qualifying last.
Paul Cartmell has been riding in a variety of bicycle disciplines, including road racing, mountain bikes and BMX as an amateur for over twenty years.
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