Australian rider Sam Willoughby took the latest round of the BMX World Cup with victory in the Madrid Supercross as dual track world champion Shanaze Reade returned to competition with silver in the women's race.
The defending men's World Cup champion led from the first turn and held on throughout the race for another career win, beating American rider Conner Fields and Dutchman Yvo van der Putten, with Olympic champion Maris Strombergs (Latvia) in fourth.
"A BMX race is so short - anything can happen. I do not plan a race, I go step by step. First a good gate, then the first turn and so on," explained Willoughby afterwards.
"I really benefit from racing a lot. That is a big bonus. Having experience on the track to react to situations; 70 percent of winning is mental. The best races are the ones I don't really remember - you are so focused then," he added.
"When you stand at the gate of a final I tell myself: 'I did everything right. Worked hard, trained hard, I have done all I can'. That gives me confidence," said runner up, Fields. "It was a very hard race. I was close to Sam in the last turn - there was little space. But I didn't want to risk crashing us both."
Meanwhile, van der Putten was stuck between a rock and hard place from the start. "I was between Maris Stromberg and Sam Willoughby on the gate. They got a bit ahead of me," said the Dutchman. "I thought, 'I better drop back otherwise I could get in the mix'. From then on I could follow my own line. I am happy with this result so early in the World Cup season."
Shanaze impresses with silver
The event also saw the return of Shanaze Reade, the British rider coming back from serious injuries sustained last year. Coincidentally, had the 21-year-old chosen, she could have been in contention to compete at the UCI Track World Championships held in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the same weekend.
She's a dual women's team sprint world champion but as it happened, the talented Brit returned to her roots and found the going a little tough, albeit satisfying. "I started the event a bit shaky, but I improved. I am happy with this result," said Reade. "It was a very difficult track, the first turn especially."
Frenchwoman Laëtitia le Corguillé won the women's event, although Reade won the gate and the first turn before making a mistake in the second straight, when le Corguillé pounced and held her advantage to the finish. Reade finished second and Australian Caroline Buchanan took third.
"I really took time away from BMX racing with my injury; I took my time and tried to get some things sorted, like buying a house," added Reade. "I am three months back on the bike again after my injury. I need to sharpen up a bit but this is a good beginning."