Saya Sakakibara has held on to her overall lead in the UCI BMX Racing World Cup standings after her third win of the 2023 season in Argentina.
After finishing 2nd by a narrow margin to Great Britain’s Beth Schriever in Round 7, Sakakibara rode an almost flawless Round 8 final to claim the victory at Santiago del Estero on Sunday.
Starting from Gate 1, Sakakibara won the start and simply could not be caught, turning the tables on Schriever, to cross the line first and secure her third World Cup win of the season.
“I knew that I had it in me and Bethany and I were really close, especially in that semi-final, our times were almost equal, so I knew it was going to come down to who can come out of the gate first. I was quite confident with my gate and I knew that if I got out, that I could do a clean lap. It was great,” Sakakibara said in a post-race interview.
The Australian now leads the World Cup standings on 2775 points ahead of Schriever on 2668 points with two rounds to go.
“The red plate means so much to me. It just gives so much more confidence for me to look down and see the red plate just to confirm that I am here, and I deserve it and I'm fast and I can just go for it,” Sakakibara said.
Fellow Australian Lauren Reynolds finished 5th and 12th respectively in the Elite Women.
Australian World Cup debutant Bella May made her presence known in the U23 Women ranks with a second-place finish in Argentina.
May, from Frankston BMX Club, showed incredible strength and speed in her Round 8 final. Sitting in seventh place on the first turn, May clawed her way back following an incredible second straight, positioning herself in second place by the second turn.
She continued to try and close down the gap to the leader, but was unable to make up the difference, securing her first World Cup podium.
Bodi Turner was the best performing Australian in the Elite Men with 11th in Round 8, while in the U23 Men Joel Marsh finished 4th in Round 7.
Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2023 UCI BMX Racing World Cup takes place on October 13-14 in Santiago Del Estero, Argentina.
Main photo: UCI