UCI Trials World Championships returns to Val di Sole
On Monday, August 29th, the UCI Trials World Championships begins, and will celebrate its 30th edition in Val di Sole, Italy. Val di Sole – the Sole Valley – is located in Trentino, the north-eastern region of Italy, and has a long history of playing host to mountain bike events, including the 2008 Trials World Championships.
The actual competition will take place in Vermiglio, on the western side of the valley in a wide grass meadow. It is a stunning venue, with green, forested mountains on both sides.
Competition opens on Tuesday with the National Team World Championships. In this event, five riders from each country participate; one from each category: Junior Men 20" and 26", Elite Men 20" and 26", and Elite Women. The points from each rider contribute to the overall nation score, with the highest combined score winning the world title. France has won the last two world titles in the National Team competition.
Wednesday, the individual competitions begin, with the semi-final rounds for Junior Men 20", Elite Men 20" and Elite Women. A day later, semi-finals action continues with the Junior Men 26" and Elite Men 26". Riders have to complete five sections, hoping to 'clean' each section for the lowest possible score. The top six riders in each category move on to the medal round.
On Friday, the first of the world titles will be awarded, in three categories - Junior Men 20", Elite Men 20" and Elite Women. The UCI Trials World Championships conclude on Saturday, September 3rd, with the world championship finals for Junior Men 26" and Elite Men 26". The finals feature five different sections from the semi-finals.
The favourite for the Elite Women's competition has to be Nina Reichenbach of Germany, who enters the world championships with four consecutive victories in UCI World Cup competition. Reichenbach will be looking to add her first world title to her palmares. Others to watch for include Tatiana Janickova of Slovakia, the 2013 and 2014 world champion, who is second to Reichenbach in World Cup competition this season, and the defending world champion, Janine Jungfels of Australia.
The Men's 20" competition is dominated by Spanish riders, led by defending champion Abel Mustieles, who has won four of the past five world championships. His greatest competition will come from countryman Benito Ros, who won four world titles in a row from 2007 to 2010, plus the 2014 title. Between the two of them, Mustieles and Ros have accounted for every 20" world title since 2007. Ros currently leads the World Cup by 30 points over Mustieles.
Men's 26" will see Great Britain's Jack Carthy attempt to win his first Elite title after winning the last three World Cups this season. He will face the pair of French riders who have, between them, won every 26" world title since 2011 - Vincent Hermance and Gilles Coustellier. Hermance is the defending champion, with three world titles to his name, while Coustellier has five rainbow jerseys. Hermance and Costellier finished second and third to Carthy in the most recent round of the World Cup.
In the Junior Men categories, defending champion Nicolas Vallée of France is the top contender for 26". Other riders with podium potential are Jordi Araque of Spain and Noah Cardona of France. Vallée will also race in the 20" category, and has the unique possibility of taking both titles. He will have to beat the European champion, Eloi Palau of Spain and Samuel Hlavaty of Slovakia. The 2015 silver medalist in 20", Sebastian Ruiz of Spain will not be competing, after sustaining an injury at the most recent round of the World Cup.