After breaking his ankle last November, there was a time when Josh Mclean wondered if he would ever race at a high level again, let alone in a UCI World Cup.
However, after months of healing and rehab, the 25-year-old will take his place on the gate this weekend for rounds 5 and 6 of the 2023 UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Sarrians, France.
Mclean was ranked 28th in the world in November last year when he broke his talus bone in three places at the USA BMX Grand Nationals, effectively ruling him out of competitive riding for nine months.
“I couldn’t put any pressure on it until mid Feb,” Mclean said.
“[At the] start of March I slowly started to walk on it, and early June was when I started back into a normal training schedule.”
While the injury forced the Queenslander into a timely break from competitive racing, he admits the mental side of the recovery may have been tougher than anticipated.
“Physically, it wasn’t bad. It was nice to have a bit of a break after a big two and half years, even though it was forced and longer than what I would have liked,” Mclean said.
“Mentally it was tough; the recovery time took a lot longer than expected. There were times when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to come back and compete at a high level again.
“Rehab was long and challenging. Man, my now fiancé was the biggest supporter out of anyone. She put up with a lot. I’m very thankful for it! I also had great help from Alliance Regen and Rehab in St. Pete, Florida. And David Hayes and Kevyn Hernandez from AusCycling.”
Mclean last raced at a world cup in October last year, where he made the quarter finals of both rounds in Bogotá, Colombia, and the 73rd ranked rider in the world has already begun the road back up the world rankings, placing 5th in the pro men at the Derby City Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky earlier this month.
However, Mclean is keeping his aspirations in check for Sarrians.
“The goal for the weekend is pretty simple. If I leave the weekend and feel like I was riding at my best, I’ll be happy,” he said.
“It feels really nice being back, and I have a new appreciation for it. It’ll be good to be back in the environment and competing at a world level again!”
Matt Krasevskis, Hayden Fletcher and Jesse Asmus will compete alongside Mclean in the Elite Men category at Sarrians, while Lauren Reynolds and Saya Sakakibara will front Australia’s charge in the Elite Women.
Tom Tucker and Noah Elton round out Australia’s contingent in France, competing in the Under-23 Men’s category.
Rounds 7 through 10 of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup will take place in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, from 7-14 October.
Images: Nico van Dartel