With the ABA Grands returning to Tulsa, Okla. in just a few days, it is all coming down to the last chance points race Friday November 25 to see if either Redline's Sam Willoughby or Speed's Marc Willers can get an extra edge going into the ABA Grands. Currently, Redline's Sam Willoughby has Speeds Marc Willer's edged out, leading by 16 points. With one last chance sprint left before the Grands, it is doubtful that much will change and the title will likely come down to the mains.
The last time a title came down to the main events was in 2009 when the now-retired Randy Stumphauser managed to take the win against Olympic champ Maris Strombergs and take the title, only to retire and take a teaching job halfway through the 2010 season. The 2010 title was a close call, but after Maris Strombergs' gnarly wreck during the last chance point race, Sam Willoughby had the title in the bag. Will it be so easy this year?
Marc Willers has had an amazingly consistent year, winning eight Elite Mains on the ABA circuit as well as a couple of Supercross races as well. He has picked up the support of Burger King as well as a start up brand focusing around high-quality BMX racing parts alongside his current bike sponsor Speed. Willers has been extremely focused on the ABA Pro title this year, shrugging off the UCI Supercross finals with a slightly injured shoulder because "the ABA title has been a dream for years." He dusted himself off and rode well at the Disney Cup and is currently gearing up for the Grands.
Sam Willoughby has been the underdog all year. Picking up as many wins as Willers in the domestic series, Willoughby just hasn't had quite the luck in the Supercross series. Willoughby is another rider gearing up for the Olympics, riding Redline's new, stiff carbon frame and doing it well. But he's not in the spotlight that graced him just one year ago.
Most recently, word arrived via daleholmes.com that Maris Strombergs would be sitting out of the 2011 ABA Grands. The reigning Olympic Champ was out for most of the 2011 season due to an injury sustained at the 2010 ABA Grands. Strombergs made it back to the top of his game for the remainder of the season, but as Strombergs put it "I'm third in points. I can go for the third spot, but that's not really what I want to do. So, I decided to take some time off, and get ready for next year." Strombergs can't be blamed for wanting to save himself for the big show, the reigning Olympic champ came the closest we've ever seen to any professional rider to unify all of the titles (UCI Worlds, NBL, UCI Supercross, ABA and Olympics.) It will be a shame to not see Strombergs on the gate at the ABA Grands, but nine months from now, Strombergs is a sure shot to be on the gate at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.