On Thursday the top BMX riders from around the world gathered to participate in the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup at the Dew Action Sports Tour. The Toyota Challenge, held last week at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, was the fifth stop on the Dew Action Sports Tour, but the first to include BMX racing. The BMX Supercross was the only event included in the Toyota Challenge that gave spectators the excitement of head to head racing along with the extraordinary spectacle of speed and jumps that is the BMX Supercross format.
Robert was excited when he saw the track on Thursday morning. The steep start ramp and big jumps on the track looked like they were tailored to his powerful and technical riding style. His only concern was the wind. As Robert’s turn to qualify approached the banner at the top of the start ramp was blowing almost completely horizontal in the wind, and he was a little worried that it would slow him down. His time trial run was .39 seconds slower than Mike Day, but strong enough for 2nd overall.
On Friday the riders did three motos in 1/8s qualifiers riding in groups of six. Robert won each of his three motos, finishing strong in all of them. He worried he was losing speed at the bottom of the start ramp, but felt good going into the Quarter-Final rounds. The
Flying Dutchman won all three of his Quarter-Final motos and was riding so strong that the NBC announcers and spectators really started to take note. When Robert took his place at the top of the start ramp, the crowd was chanting "Afro Bob! Afro Bob!" Robert won the Semi-Final and, for the first time all day, he felt like he was riding really well. "I don’t know what I did, but I’m finally keeping my speed on the ramp. I feel really good."
The main event was one of the best and most watched races of the season, with hundreds of spectators attending Friday’s race and millions more watching at home on NBC Sports when the action aired on Saturday September 10th. Robert started strong, and once again he felt like he was able to keep his speed on the long start ramp.
Brandon Meadows tried to pass him on the inside of the second turn, but only managed to slide himself and a few others out of contention. Robert held his lead to take the victory with a time of 30.091 seconds. Luke Madill from Australia finished second with a time of 31.928, and Kyle Bennett finished third with a time of 32.717.
Following the main, Robert was interviewed by NBC Sports, Fuel TV, and Fox Sports
Radio, all of whom were impressed by his domination in this format of BMX racing. "The Dew Action Sports Tour is something different, bringing BMX to a whole new level,"Robert told interviewers after the race. "Since this is the format they’re going to use in the Olympics in 2008, I think it’s good that this is the racing we’re showing here for the Toyota Challenge." As for the track, Robert commented "I like tracks like this â€“ big with lots of speed. They’re fun, but a lot more technical than they look. This is my kind of race."
Later that night Robert was out celebrating his victory with Johan Lindstrom (BMX Director for the UCI), Tom Ritzenthaler (Track Designer and Builder for the UCI), and Jerry Landrum (BMXmania.com and all-around good guy). While they were busy getting some much needed nourishment, some of the other riders checked out the Dirt Jumping contest at the Dew Tour. The next morning over breakfast Robert was surprised to hear from fellow pro Justin Loffredo. Apparently Ogio had donated some bags to give away at the Dirt Jumping contest and at one point the announcer from NBC Sports said he’d give a bag to the first person who could tell him who had won the BMX Supercross. Justin laughed as he explained that he never thought anyone would get it right, but before he could say anything, "the whole crowd started screaming â€˜AFRO BOB!’".
The event was a huge success for Robert and for the sport of BMX racing. His victory in the race last week, along with his victory at the BMX Supercross World Cup in Aigle, SUI in June gave him the overall UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Champion Title. When asked how it felt to have all those spectators cheering "Afro Bob", Robert said "It’s great to get this kind of exposure, for me and for BMX. It’s kind of weird hearing them chant my name though. I’m not used to it."
After spending most of the 2005 season as the UCI #1 ranked Elite rider, Robert was hoping to get a bit of a break after the Toyota Challenge, but no such luck. Robert leaves for Japan on Wednesday September 14th to do a couple of riding clinics at local tracks.
He will also be participating in the Pan Pacific Continental Championships in Hitachinaka, Japan before returning home on the 25th.
He can rest for a couple of days before heading to Interbike, and then heads to New Zealand from October 9-24 to give a series of riding clinics. "I love doing clinics like this. I went to Japan and New Ze aland last year and it was great. The kids at the local tracks are always into BMX. They are surprised a pro will take the time to teach them stuff, but I have a great time doing it. They’re the future of the sport."UCI BMX Supercross World Cup
Main Event Final
1 Robert De Wilde
2 Luke Madill
3 Kyle Bennett
4 Jason Rogers
5 Randy Stumpfhauser
6 Brandon Meadows
7 Bubba Harris
8 Mike Day
Series Final Standings
1 Robert De Wilde
2 Randy Stumpfhauser
3 Cristian Becerine
Robert would like to thank his sponsors for all of their support throughout the season.
Staats Bikes, Maxxis Tires, Troy Lee Designs, Oakley, Clif Bar, Shimano, Ogio, Tektro Brakes, Ciari, and Answer forks.