The Australian Cycling Team is ready ahead of the 2019 UCI World Cup season which gets underway in Manchester on April 26.
Five countries will each host two rounds of the Series in 2019 the beginning in Manchester in April, before taking in stops in the Netherlands, France, USA and Argentina.
The 2019 World Championships will slot in between the French and USA rounds in July, with the 2019 season to offer all-important qualification points for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Saya Sakakibara shone while on her debut in the elite ranks in 2018, finishing second overall on the year-end international rankings claiming one World Cup win and four podium appearances, in addition to claiming sixth in her first elite career World Championship final.
"2018 was such a crazy season for me, I didn't expect any of the results," said Wollongong's Sakakibara, 19. "It has shown me it is possible to do it, now I understood where I am at against the rest of the field.
"Coming into 2019, obviously there is confidence I can take into the season, But it is a brand new year, there is probably another new group coming through, it is a pre-Olympic year so everyone is trying to get those Olympic points. It is going to be really competitive, even more than last year.
"But like last year, I will be taking it race by race, coming into it with no expectations. I plan to build on 2018, learn from mistakes that I make along the way, and continue to grow as an athlete."
With a valuable year of experience under her belt, Saya dedicated her Australian based summer offseason to strength and power program.
"At only 19, I am not as strong as the older girls in the elite class, so being in the gym three times a week was a priority over summer, working on my strength and power," said Sakakibara, who turns 20 in August. "Now it will be all about trying to convert that strength base into power and then on the bike.
Sakakibara opened 2019 with victory in the Oceania Championships and will be chasing the podium in Manchester.
"Always chasing the podium, Manchester is a tight track, it will be a new experience, tight racing, everyone is eager to put down good results to start the reason, going to be very competitive."
Kai Sakakibara celebrated his start to 2019 with victory in January's Oceania Championships and like sibling Saya, spent much of his summer deep in an offseason strength program.
"We have seen great improvements from October 2018 vs February 2019, my sprint times have improved, as well as my start Hill times at Brisbane SX track as well," said Kai. "Another focus for me was on marginal gains - this was in sleep, nutrition, recovery, as well as doing what I already do in training a little bit better.
"I think all of this combined has shown a huge bump in my performance compared to last year."
Adelaide's Anthony Dean will also line up in Manchester's opening round following a consistent 2018 where he grabbed a podium at the Belgium World Cup round, in addition to two top-five placings, and top ten at the World Championships.
"Heading into the 2019 season with high confidence and hopes," said Dean. "After finishing the final World Cup of 2018 in third, I have been setting my sights on the top step of the podium.
"I am coming into the 2019 season in my best shape and looking forward to racing in the venue I got my first World Cup podium in 2014."
As the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games moves closer into view, Cycling Australia BMX Technical Director Wade Bootes is looking forward to another season.
"The Australian Cycling Team have clear individual performance plans for all riders as we embrace diversity to enhance the individual athlete by targeting key areas of support required by the support network we align within Australia and around the world.
"Simplifying the process and focusing on tasks and activities that will make an impact on performance."
2019 BMX Supercross Schedule - Riders contesting Round
More details at the UCI website: https://www.uci.org/bmx-racing/events/uci-bmx-supercross-world-cup âââ
The Australian Cycling Team has arrived in Azerbaijan for the 2018 UCI BMX (Supercross) World Championships with siblings Saya and Kai Sakakibara (NSW) and 2016 Olympic Games finalist Anthony Dean (SA) confident following their European and World Cup campaigns.
For Saya Sakakibara, her maiden season in the elite ranks has netted triple podium appearances from the first six rounds 2018 World Cup Series, in addition to gold and silver at the European Cup.
“Definitely a great confidence booster coming into the World Championships,” Saya told Cycling Australia after her final training session in the Netherlands. “Heading into this season, being first year elite, I had no expectation of podiums, it was purely to learn and gain experience.
“It's humbling to think I'm up there with the best in the world already competing for spots on the podium.
“Although I may have a little more confidence, I just have to remember what mind set put me in that position in the first place and execute that exactly this weekend.”
Kai Sakakibara, Australia’s leading male rider in ninth on the UCI rankings, has enjoyed a consistent season with three top ten placings in the European Cup, and two at the most recent rounds of the World Cup in May.
“I came into season 2018 with strong expectations, but I have quickly learned it doesn’t get any easier, it is just as competitive as any other year,” said Kai, who with Saya, has based himself in Europe for much of 2018 to increase his exposure to racing.
“It has been fantastic being around this European racing environment week in week out, in the training environment everyday. Getting this experience under my belt and doing the races leading into the Championships has been invaluable,” said Kai, who finished 2017 ranked ninth.
“The fact that I have been able to maintain a high position in the rankings this season, to know I am consistently up there, definitely gives me confidence and a good chance of doing well at the Worlds as well.”
At the six and most recent World Cup in Belgium two weeks ago, Anthony Dean found the podium and is aiming for the final this weekend.
“(My) preparation has been really good leading into the World Championships, I have been down in San Diego getting lots of track time and work done, I’m excited and ready to go,” said Dean.
“Coming off the podium just three weeks ago in Belgium gave me a good push and I’m excited, confident and looking forward to the opportunity to show what I can do come finals Saturday.”
Reigning world champions Corben Sharrah (USA) and Alise Willoughby (USA), plus World Cup leaders Niek Kimmann (NED) and Laura Smulders (NED) will create a challenge the Australians in the battle for the rainbow jersey.
The 2018 UCI BMX World Championships take place from 5-9 June in Baku, Azerbaijan. For more information, visit the official Baku2018 website or watch the live stream.
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Complete Australian Team for 2018 UCI BMX World Championships
Rio Olympian Anthony Dean grabbed a podium appearance at the sixth round of the 2018 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup podium in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.
After falling from his bike during Saturday's quarter-finals of round five, Dean redeemed himself magnificently with third place in the finals behind World Cup leader and double weekend winner, Nick Kinmann and Joris Daudet.
Returning from injury surrounding muscle damage in his quad, Dean has been working tirelessly in his San Diego home and he is pleased to see that his plans with his coach Wade Bootes is paying off.
“Anthony’s performance today was on task, he had clear intent and delivered to the plan,” Bootes said.
“Anthony has demonstrated today that he is on track and will continue to work hard and focus on the key elements to be the best rider for the 2018 World Championships in Baku.”
Joining Dean in the men’s final was fellow Australian Cycling Team member Kai Sakakibara who finished in fourth in a heavily contested race. Sakakibara now sits eighth on the overall standings while Dean has moved into 14th.
With two weekends of back-to-back world cup racing over, the Australian team now set their sights on the 2018 UCI BMX World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on June 5-9. The biggest event on the international BMX calendar this year will have all riders battling it out for the top spot.
The conclusion of the World Cup series will make its final weekend stand at Santiago Del Estero, Argentina on September 29-30. The current standings for the men and women’s elite class are below