|Courtesy of USA CYCLING:|
Fields, Herman advance into Friday’s Olympic BMX semifinals
London, U.K. (August 9, 2012) -- BMX racing continued with the men’s quarterfinals on Thursday at the Olympic Games as two of three American competitors qualified to move on to Friday’s semifinal round.Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev./Chase BMX) and David Herman (Wheat Ridge, Colo./Free Agent-Rockstar) will advance to Friday’s round of 16, while Nic Long (Lakeside, Calif./Haro Bikes) was eliminated in the quarterfinals by a single point.
Thirty two of the world’s top BMX racers squared off on Thursday in four, eight-man head-to-head heats with the top two riders in each heat after three runs advancing, and the next two best qualifying after five runs. Fields lined up in the second heat and wasted no time in confirming his status as a gold-medal favorite. The nineteen year old jumped out to the lead and secured the number one position in each of his three runs, quickly moving him into tomorrow’s semifinals.
“It was a lot of fun out there and I’m happy with the way I raced,” said Fields. “I still have a few kinks to iron out, but I felt good. I was just relaxed and kind of got into a zone and stayed there. I treated it like any other race. I just have to take it one lap at a time and that’s what I plan to do tomorrow.”
American compatriots Herman and Long were pitted in the tough heat number three with the winner of last summer’s Olympic Test Event, Marc Willers (NZL) and 2011 world champion Joris Daudet of France among others. The American pair suffered some bad luck right out of the gate as Herman got tangled with Daudet and went down, taking down Long and several others. Long was able to gather his bike and cross the line in seventh, but Herman’s wheel spokes were broken so he was credited with last, or eighth place.
“I haven’t fell in a really long time, that’s something I’m really known for,” explained Herman. “So coming back after that fall and feeling confident out of the gate and racing those other riders that I fell with, I’m going to take that into tomorrow and just know that normally I go faster on the day of finals.”
Herman was able to make a strong recovery finishing third, fourth, first and second in the next four rounds for a point total of 18. Long also came back strong finishing fourth, fifth, second and first respectively in the remaining rounds, but it was only enough for a 19 point total. In a scoring system similar to the track cycling omnium were the lowest point gathers earn the higher position, Long finished fifth in his heat where the top four move on; just a single point behind Herman and Roger Rinderknecht who will join Willers and Daudet in the semifinals.
“I felt confident in my racing today,” said Long. “I just had some bad luck out there. Had a crash in the first run and ended up getting seventh. Second round I got cut off in the air and ended up getting fifth and I just didn’t have the points to come back from that. I gave my all out there. I just wanted to get to the final day of racing, but it wasn’t in the cards today.”
On Friday beginning at 3 p.m. Fields will line up in heat 1 against the likes of Raymon van der Biezen, who won all three of his qualifying heats, while Herman will compete in heat #2 with Daudet, Willers and defending Olympic champion Maris Strombergs (LAT). The top four riders after three heats will advance on to the winner-take-all final on Friday afternoon.
“Overall it was a good day with the exception of the bad luck for the two boys in the early going,” said USA Cycling’s BMX Programs Director Mike King. “There was some bad luck for Nic. There really wasn’t much else he could have done. He rode well and fought back strong. At the end of the day that’s what they say is called racing. We should be in good position going in to tomorrow with two strong men and women.”
American ladies Alise Post (Saint Cloud, Minn./Redline) and Brooke Crain (Visalia, Calif./Haro Bikes) will also be in action on Friday, competing in the semifinals together in Heat 1.
Portions of the BMX cycling event will be shown on your local NBC station, will finals tape delayed for prime time. The competition will be streamed live in entirety on www.nbcolympics.com. For more information on cycling at the Olympic Games, visit www.usacycling.org/olympics.