Pajón and Marquart crowned BMX Supercross World Cup champions in Sakarya

Mariana Pajón wins first World Cup overall title since 2015 with third-place finish in final round of 2021 season, while Switzerland's Simon Marquart wins his first crown in Turkey.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Double Olympic champion Mariana Pajón of Colombia and Switzerland's Simon Marquart are the 2021 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup overall winners after both finished on the podium to conclude the season in Sakarya, Turkey.

Pajón went into the final round of eight on Sunday (31 October) leading the women's elite standings, knowing that a top-three finish would be enough to secure a third overall World Cup title of her career and first since 2015.

She did exactly that, riding a safe race in the final which was won by Laura Smulders of the Netherlands.

It was Smulders' 23rd career World Cup race win and third in a row on this circuit, having also won on Saturday and last Sunday. Once again, American Felicia Stancil was fastest out of the first straight but the Dutchwoman pipped her on the line by less than a tenth of a second.

"We pulled it off at the end again," Smulders said. "I had a pretty good gate this time, but Felicia was just a little bit faster again on the first straight. So I went for the same game plan – wait for my turn, and I did it again on the last straight where I had more speed.

"Riding in front is very hard and I really like the chasing part of it, it gives a little bit more energy having someone in front of you to chase down."

By finishing third, Pajón ended the season on 815 points – 45 ahead of Smulders, who was another 65 points clear of Stancil.

"I'm super happy, I felt like I was coming to Turkey just for vacations but it ended up really good, I ended up with the overall," Pajón said. 

"I love to win and I really wanted to win (the race), I had a really good gate. Laura is super fast and Felicia too, they did a good job. I gave it my all."

Marquart clinches race win to secure overall title

Marquart's task in the men's standings was made slightly easier by the failure of overall leader Carlos Ramírez, the two-time Olympic bronze medallist for Colombia, to make the final.

If the Swiss could stay ahead of Vincent Pelluard, Joris Daudet, and Cedric Butti, he would be all-but-guaranteed the title.

The 24-year-old, starting from the middle gate 5, was strong to start and took the lead into turn 1, from where he powered home without much challenge, securing the overall title regardless of his rivals' results.

Saturday's winner Diego Arboleda finished second with Daudet third.

After the race, the Tokyo 2020 Olympian paid tribute to his coach Liam Phillips, himself a two-time overall World Cup winner, who also coaches Olympic and world champion Niek Kimmann.

"I chose Gate 5, I just feel really comfortable there, had a great start and great first straight. I managed to stay first this time out of the first turn and just brought it home.

"(Being World Cup champion) means a lot to me, this is only my third World Cup (race) win and Liam Phillips, our coach, has basically won everything now this season, so that was a big goal of ours to bring the World Cup overall home."

Marquart finished on 740 points, ahead of Ramírez on 675 and Daudet on 640.

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