Ex pro road racer and Tour de France rider Robbie McEwan started his bike carrer racing BMX in Australia , he was Australian Champion back in 1990 before turning his sights to the road, I found this article today courtesy of Paul Cope , it makes a very interesting read.
Robbie McEwen was the first BMX ambassador. An Australian junior champion in the discipline before turning his attention to the road, McEwen emphasises how the agility he acquired through BMX was instrumental in securing three green jerseys (2002, 2004 and 2006) and 12 stage wins in the Tour de France. And it is not incidental that the sprinter from Brisbane was the first to entertain the public with spectacular wheelies when crossing the finish line, well before an acrobatic Peter Sagan!
Since its expansion in the 1990s, BMX has certainly become the foremost and most effective school of cycling. The discipline represents an exceptional opportunity to counter the strong competition from team sports that recruit children from a very young age. The WCC has grasped this opportunity by raising the profile and promoting BMX to all National Federations.
This approach offers many advantages. First of all, BMX is accessible to the youngest riders, from four to five years old, as soon as they learn how to ride a bike. The sport is great fun, with the riders enjoying feelings of speed and excitement; an addictive combination. What’s more, BMX takes place in a perfectly safe environment on tracks where the technical challenges can be adapted to the abilities of the riders. It is not an expensive sport as the tracks are easy to set up and the bikes are relatively simple and inexpensive (costing CHF 100-200, €80-160). BMX progressively develops the basic techniques that the riders need to be in control of their bikes and allows them to apply these techniques in a safe environment.
The WCC promotes the construction of mini-tracks around the world; regions such as Latin America and Oceania have already seized this opportunity. Even though resources are often more limited in Africa, the continent is also welcoming BMX. Against this promising background, the World Cycling Centre, which has welcomed groups for BMX training since 2005, has announced its largest-ever investment in revamping the track in Aigle. The new facilities will be ready in May 2014 featuring two start ramps (one 8 m high and the other 5 m) and longer straights, offering a replica of the track that the athletes will face at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. A mini-track will also be built for those new to the discipline. This comprehensive infrastructure will be available not only to riders and coaches from all around the world but also to local schoolchildren and clubs.
Training courses, in collaboration with Olympic Solidarity, will target coaches and riders from all countries, but in particular from Africa, offering the athletes the facilities to express themselves and develop their talents. Equally impressive development is also evident in South Korea and Japan at WCC satellite centres. A programme of training initiatives all around the world is also scheduled, as recently illustrated in Serbia and Columbia. The latter country is home to the 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist Mariana Pajon. BMX is not merely a stepping stone towards more traditional forms of cycling: it is also a fantastic discipline in its own right. BMX offers superb entertainment and has produced genuine stars such as double Olympic champion Maris Strombergs – a Latvian icon.