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Racing on ‘incredible’ track, BMX elite descend on Rock Hill for World Cup

The 2016 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup races will take place Friday and Saturday at Rock Hill’s BMX Supercross Track.
The 2016 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup races will take place Friday and Saturday at Rock Hill’s BMX Supercross Track. Herald file

Rachel Jones isn’t racing for medal contention or points.

She’s racing to prove she can bounce back after an injury.

Jones suffered a rough crash over the summer on her first practice event at the 2016 UCI BMX World Championships in Colombia, and only recently returned to the track a couple of weeks ago.

This time, back on the big stage, the 20-year-old Newcastle, Australia, native has the chance to see where she ranks among the elite of BMX.

“I’m just looking forward to racing my bike again,” said Jones, who will compete in the Women’s Elite classification at this weekend’s 2016 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup event Friday and Saturday. “It was the first major crash I’ve had, so coming back and transitioning back into racing, and finishing the year on a high” is her motivation.

Jones is one of more than 120 pro elite cyclists from over 25 countries who have traveled to Rock Hill as a part of the sport’s World Cup Series circuit. Rock Hill is the fourth spot on the annual circuit, which includes Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Sarasota, Fla.

Rock Hill’s BMX Supercross track just off Cherry Road will also host the UCI BMX World Championships in 2017.

Many athletes are fresh off this summer’s Rio Olympic Games. Rock Hill coped with rainy weather when the city hosted a World Cup last year, but organizers are expecting sunny skies and high turnout this time around.

“These events allow us a great chance to show Southern hospitality,” said Mayor Doug Echols. “I’m sure all of Rock Hill and its citizens will say, ‘Welcome to the world, and everyone who comes here.’ 

How much are tickets? For adults, it’s $10 for a single day and $15 for both days. For children over 5, it’s $5 for one day and $8 for both days.

Officials are expecting anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 spectators this weekend – potentially a big boost in sports tourism revenue for Rock Hill. Echols said the city has seen $21 million in direct impact from sports tourism between Rock Hill’s sports complexes, including the Supercross track, the Velodrome, Cherry Park and Manchester Meadows.

Echols also said that talks had been progressing to build a $25 million indoor sports complex that officials say will help keep tourists visiting the area year-round and provide $10 million in annual revenue.

We’re in the full swing of it. We’re ready for ... a lot of fast-paced racing. We’ll really be looking for the community to come out and show their support.

John Taylor, director of Rock Hill’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department

“We’re in the full swing of it,” said John Taylor, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department. “We’re ready for ... a lot of fast-paced racing. We’ll really be looking for the community to come out and show their support.”

Jones, who has raced at Rock Hill twice before, said she thought the course was “incredible” despite last year’s wet conditions. She’s hoping for a big crowd to boost the atmosphere over the next two days.

“Anywhere you go, the atmosphere’s great,” she said. “It always helps when you have people who love the sport.”

She’s ready to go since recovering from her injury. She injured her AC joint, chipped her collarbone and fractured the radial head in her elbow in the crash that took her out of action.

Event schedule for 2016 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Dates: Friday and Saturday Gates open at 3 p.m., autographs at 4 p.m., racing starts 5 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday

Saturday’s racing will kick off with a Special Forces group from Fort Bragg, N.C., parachuting in with an American flag just prior to the 6 p.m. start.

Connor Fields, a men’s BMX gold medalist from the 2016 Olympics, will sign autographs and chat with fans Saturday afternoon.

Saturday’s events will end around 10 p.m. with fireworks.

Concessions and beer garden will be available, and parking is free.

David Thackham: 803-329-4066, @dthackham

2016 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup

Where: Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track, 1307 Riverwalk Parkway

When: Friday and Saturday. Gates open at 3 p.m., autographs at 4 p.m., racing starts 5 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Adults – single day, $10, two-day $15; children: single day, $5, two-day $8; children under 5, free. Tickets available on race days at the gate

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