As the dust settles on the first-ever Red Bull Pump Riders event in Brazil, we catch up with the runners and riders and have a chat with the newly-crowned victor, Mike Day.
Fans who made their way to Paulinia on the outskirts of São Paulo this weekend witnessed some of the best bikers on the planet burning rubber at Red Bull Pump Riders, a unique pump track race. 16 top riders from the worlds of BMX and mountain biking (MTB) were in town to compete in the first-ever pump riding world championship.
Pumping stands out from other types of biking because riders are forbidden from pedalling. Instead, they must "pump" their way around bumpy dirt tracks using their other cornering and bike-handling skills.
The specially-constructed track at Red Bull Pump Riders forced the competitors to ride side-by-side on symmetrical circuits. Each knockout round was a ‘best of three’ affair with the first rider to win two races progressing to the next stage of the competition.
Eventually there were just two men left standing to compete in the final, local rider Ebert Silva and Olympic BMX silver medalist Mike Day.
Final Round Throwdown
Ebert suffered a disaster in the first race of the final as he got stuck on the first bend. The pressure was ongoing into the second race and the Brazilian knew he had to beat Mike or the final would be all over.
The second chapter of the final saw both riders neck-and-neck through the tight bends that dominated the circuit. It was only when both riders hit the bumpy final straight that Mike managed to put his nose in front and close out the contest.
The Californian-born Day seemed to love every minute of his trip to Brazil. The U.S. Olympic athlete used Red Bull Pump Riders to announce to the world that he is officially back in action after his recent surgery.
“I really enjoyed the event and I’m incredibly happy with the win. I did my best to maintain a good pace in all of my races but the pump track was super tricky," he said. "I think I could have got round the track faster if I had been walking.”
Despite having to settle for silver, Ebert was also in high spirits after getting his chance to test himself against the best.
“At first I couldn’t believe that I’d made it to the final and then I realized I was going to be racing against my idol, Mike Day," said Ebert. "For me, the whole day was like a dream come true. Of course it would have been great to win but I think I represented my country and myself well. Meeting the crowd and the other riders was special, especially meeting Mike and the young Brazilian rider Vinicius Gomes. That kid is an awesome talent.”
New Talent Springs Eternal
Anybody who witnessed the performances of 16-year-old Vinicius couldn’t help but agree with Ebert’s assessment of the youngster’s skills. Even Mike expressed his relief at not having to race against the teenager, who finished the day third on the podium.
“Vinicius clearly has the gift to ride on pump tracks. It’s a great sign for him because if you master riding pump then it can really help you out in BMX competitions. Vinicius definitely proved he has what it takes to compete and I think we saw a young talent at Red Bull Pump Riders that the whole world is soon going to know about.”
After having fun in Brazil, the next stop for Mike will be the UCI BMX World Championships in Copenhagen later this year. Stay tuned for all the latest news on Mike’s preparations for Denmark.
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- Anthony Napolitan and Drew Bezanson entertain the troops
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