UCI BMX World Championships: behind-the-scenes talk with the organiser
The 2018 UCI BMX World Championships will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan, a venue that doesn't necessarily breath BMX but is undergoing strong cycling development. With a world-class BMX track, this young cycling discipline can only grow from here.
Just a few weeks out from the UCI BMX World Championships, we catch up with Farhad Aliyev, General Secretary of Azerbaijan Cycling Federation and the Event Manager of the Azerbaijani Organising Committee for the World Championships.
How much work went into getting the UCI World Championships to Azerbaijan?
Farhad Aliyev: During the 1st European Games held in Baku in 2015, the UCI administration was here for the BMX event. They really enjoyed our BMX facility and the BMX track. They encourage us to host a large-scale international BMX event in Baku, because the facility corresponds to all international standards. The country administration responded positively and with great pleasure to the opportunity to bid for the 2018 UCI BMX World Championships. The rest is history.
How has BMX racing developed in your country since the 2015 European Games?
Farhad Aliyev: Like in rest of the world, compared to road cycling, MTB and track cycling, BMX was something new and spectacular for the audience in Azerbaijan. During the European Games, the young generation enjoyed the BMX race immensely. We currently have a lot of amateur and professional sportsmen who are actively engaged in BMX cycling and they seem to enjoy it a lot.
Have BMX Racers/National Federations shown an interest in coming to Azerbaijan to practice on your track?
Farhad Aliyev: The track was fully upgraded in 2017, when the UCI changed the standards for tracks. It currently meets all standards. We had a test event last October to prepare for the UCI World Championships. Both before and after the race, we have had many racers from all over the world, who come to practice on our track. We are proud to say that it is the only such track in the region. We have had BMX athletes from Russia, France, Latvia, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador, etc.
How many BMX racers are you expecting for the World Championships?
Farhad Aliyev: About 2000 athletes from over 50 countries.
What can people expect when they get to Azerbaijan?
Farhad Aliyev: Firstly, they will see a very hospitable, sunny, and beautiful country with delicious cuisine. We are confident that our guests will like our country very much and return home with the best of memories of Azerbaijan.