The UCI Trials World Cup makes its return to Pra Loup
Young German rider Nina Reichenbach will be wearing the leader’s jersey in the Women’s Elite event after taking the honours in Krakow. Though Reichenbach turned in a fine performance in the European Championships to prove her win in Poland was no fluke, she can expect some stiff competition in France, with reigning world champion Tatiana Janickova (SLO) determined to get back to winning ways in the World Cup after proving she is right on form by retaining the European title. Spain’s multiple world champion Gemma Abant is also sure to be in contention once again, having joined Reichenbach and Janickova on the podium at the Europeans. Among the other riders well worth keeping an eye on are Belgium’s Perrine Devahive, who has made a bright start to the season, Swiss champion Debi Studer and Lua Vizcaino, the newly crowned Spanish champion. Second in Pra Loup last year, Australia’s Janine Jungfels is making her annual summertime trip to Europe to sharpen her skills against the continent’s best in preparation for the World Championships.
In the Elite Men’s 20 inch, reigning world champion Abel Mustieles will once again be the man to beat, through as Ion Areitio has just proved in snatching his Spanish championship crown, he is not infallible. Mustieles’ biggest threat should come from compatriot and multiple world champion Benito Ros, one of the few riders capable of matching him. Fresh from his third place in Krakow, the Netherlands’ Rick Koekoek will be aiming for more than a bronze this time, though he will no doubt have to outdo the Spanish armada to achieve that goal. Figuring among a clutch of fast-improving new kids on the block are Lucien Leiser (SUI) and the German trio of Raphael Pils, Dominik Oswald and Lucas Krell. The question is, do any of them have the power to take a place on the podium, or will the French quartet formed by Théau Courtes, Benjamin Durville, Marius Merger and Maxime Muffat Joly shine on home soil, each of them having what it takes to make the final?
In the Elite Men’s 26 inch category, meanwhile, the French contingent will be out to impress once again after largely dominating proceedings in Krakow. Riding in front of their own fans will be Vincent Hermance in the world champion’s jersey, Gilles Coustellier in the European champion’s jersey and Kevin Aglae, who recently followed up his first Elite win by beating both Hermance and Coustellier to land his maiden national title. The home trio will need to watch out for the indefatigable British rider Jack Carthy, who will be doing all he can to make the top of the podium once more, while Belgium’s Kenny Belaey has nothing but victory on his mind as he makes his World Cup return. The points leader after his win in Poland, France’s Giacomo Coustellier has designs on repeating the feat, something that is certainly within his grasp. While these six are the favourites, Hungary’s Lazlo Hegedus is one of several riders with hopes of making the final, along with Belgium’s Iciar Van den Bergh, Spain’s Rafa Tibau, Great Britain’s Andrei Burton and the French quintet of Clément Meot, Nicolas Vuillermot, Guillaume Dunand, Alexis Brunetaud and Nicolas Vallée.
Qualifying in the men’s 20 and 26 inch events takes place on Friday 25 July, with the semi-finals being held on Saturday, along with the women’s race. Run on Sunday, the men’s 20 and 26 inch finals will be followed by the podium-deciding Super Finals. All in all, it promises to be an exciting, action-packed programme as Pra Loup once again rolls the red carpet out for the UCI Trials World Cup.
Click on the link to relive last year’s action at Pra Loup: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x133le1_coupe-du-monde-de-vtt-trial-2013-praloup_sport#from=embediframe
Photo: Vincent Hermance in action at 2013 Pra Loup World Cup leg