Throughout Time Trials and Quarterfinals, BMX racing at the London Olympic Games has witnessed a wave of fierce competition from an unforeseen force -- the Dutch team.
Comprised of Raymon van der Biezen, Twan van Gendt and Jelle van Gorkom, the Netherlands' BMX team has seemingly come from out of nowhere to win Time Trials (van der Biezen) and claim two spots in Friday's semifinals (van Gendt and van der Biezen advanced.) Prior to the start of BMX racing at the London Games, the Dutch riders were not expected to perform this big, but as soon as the event started, they made their presence known.
Raymon van der Biezen surprised even himself by posting the fastest time in Time Trials on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the favorites heading into tomorrow's semifinals are beginning to flex some muscle. Team USA's Connor Fields finished a respectable fourth in Time Trials, when many expected to see him leading the pack. In the quarterfinals, he just earned three wins and advancing directly to the semifinals with ease. He also bested Raymon van der Biezen's Time Trial time by over half a second in the first race of his heat.
Much could be attributed to New Zealand's Marc Willers and Australia's Sam Willoughby. Willers finished in tenth place overall in Time Trials, but posted two wins and a second place in quarterfinals for a spot in the semifinals. And Willoughby, who finished sixth overall in Time Trials, battled throughout quarterfinals to ultimately advance into semifinals.
And then there is 2008 Beijing Olympic Gold Medalist Maris Strombergs, who finished 11th overall in Time Trials. He advanced to semifinals, but appeared reserved and cautious during the quarterfinals.
Today, with the field of riders narrowed from 32 down to 16 into the semis, anything could be expected. The Dutch duo van der Biezen and van Gendt will come out swinging, but it will be met with a renewed "the gloves are off" approach from Willers, Willoughby, Fields, Strombergs and more.
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