Trials: New names challenged the world’s best in 2013

Trials: New names challenged the world’s best in 2013

00trialsElite Women: Janickova leads the way
After years of domination from Switzerland’s Karin Moor, who retired in 2011 after winning her ninth world title, it appeared the way was clear for Gemma  Abant (World Champion in 2008, 2010 and 2012) to take over the reins. But that was without counting on the presence of the young gun from Slovakia, Tatiana Janickova, already bronze medalist in 2010 at the tender age of 16, and again in 2012.

2013 that will go down in the history books as the year of Janickova’s veritable explosion onto the Elite Trials scene. Crowned World Champion in Pietermaritzburg and undefeated in the World Cup, she is opening the way for a new generation of athletes and shaping the future of Women’s Trials.

Elite Men 20”: Mustieles at last
2013 was also the year that nine-time World Champion Benito Ros Charral, unbeaten since 2007, was toppled from his throne. After his two Junior world titles in 2008 and 2009, Spain’s Abel Mustieles Garcia proved he had what it takes to break his fellow countryman’s stronghold and win the Elite Men’s 20” category. His performance was no flash in the pan: Mustieles had a perfect season, winning the World Cup as well as the rainbow jersey after an unforgettable final that took place in torrential rain. He is now World Number 1 and looks set to remain at the top of the hierarchy for a while. France’s Aurélien Fontenoy pulled off an exploit at the 2013 World Championships by sneaking in between the two Spanish athletes to take second place.

An eye should also be kept on another Spanish athlete, Bernat Seuba, who took the world title in the Juniors category in front of Austria’s Thomas Pecchacker and France’s Alex Rudeau.

Elite Men 26” : France continues to dominate
France has always dominated the 26” category (14 titles since 1994) and once again demonstrated its strength at the World Championships in South Africa. With no less than five of eight finalists, they were well placed to dominate the podium. 2012 World Champion Gilles Coustellier, who has four world titles to his name, managed only second place this year behind fellow Frenchman Vincent Hermance. It was a second world title for Hermance after 2007, who confirmed his successful season with a demonstration of all-round skills and nerves of steel. Meanwhile Belgium’s Kenny Belaey, absent throughout the season due to injury, made a remarkable comeback to take third place at the World Championships. The three athletes on the podium have 10 titles between them.

Junior Men 26”: Watch out for Carthy
Although the athletes at the head of the Elite 26” category have been prominent on the scene for several years, Junior World Champion Jack Carthy is already representing a danger to their hold on the discipline. The young British athlete has already graced the podiums of several World Cup events, and even took victory straight after the World Championships. Carthy has shaken up the world Elite hierarchy by taking third place in the UCI rankings at the tender age of 17. He will be the one to watch next year.

Méribel voted best event
It was not only the athletes who were rewarded for their skill and effort in 2013: for the first time an award went to the best event of the UCI Trials World Cup. Athletes, officials and the press took part in the vote, with first place going to Méribel (France), organizers of the fourth round of the 2013 series.

2013 certainly produced some eye-opening performances and it will be interesting to see how this develops next year:  the season will open in Cracovie (Poland) on May 30.

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Belgian dunes beckon

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Belgian dunes beckon

0cycThe cyclo-cross peloton lands in the dunes of Koksijde, Belgium, on Saturday for the third round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. A regular host of the World Cup, and venue of the 2012 World Championships, Koksijde is a cyclo-cross classic, and many riders have a love-hate relationship with its sand.

Elite Men: Van der Haar’s successful history in Koksijde

Young Dutch Champion Lars van der Haar (Rabo Development Team) has fond memories of Koksijde. At the 2012 World Championships he won the Under 23 race after a fierce duel with Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus).

Despite his current World Cup lead over German Champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), van der Haar will face tough opposition from the Belgian selection in Koksijde. Men such as Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony) and the now-retired Erwin Vervecken have dominated the top spot of the Koksijde podium in the past decade.

The only man who managed to break their domination was Czech star Zdenek Stybar who won in Koksijde back in 2009. Last year Nys won ahead of Albert and French cyclo-cross star Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr). It’ll be interesting to see how young wolves van der Haar and Walsleben deal with the more experienced Belgians.

Elite Women: Compton hot favourite

US Champion Compton is hot favourite for the win in the Women’s category. Last year she demolished the opposition by winning the World Cup event by more than a minute over her nearest rivals. In the past few years she’s only been beaten in the Koksijde sand by Dutch women Marianne Vos and Daphny van den Brand (both absent).

Compton currently has 110 points in the World Cup standings in front of British Champion Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) on 95 points. The rest of the field has already been distanced after two World Cup rounds. Czech rider Pavla Havlikova (Young Telenet-Fidea) shares third place with the now-retired Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Faren-Kuota) holding 75 points.

In the younger categories, it will be interesting to see how the Dutch team fares against the Belgians. The Dutch Men Under-23 riders have always performed well in Koksijde with wins from Gert-Jan Bosman and Van der Haar in recent years. Mathieu van der Poel won the Koksijde World Championships race and World Cup round as a Junior in 2012, and currently leads the U-23 rankings.

Belgian rider Eli Iserbyt copes well with the sand and will be looking to extend his overall lead over Lucas Dubau (France) in the Junior Men rankings.