New chapter for trials at UCI Urban Cycling World Championships
Trials was one of the first off-road cycling disciplines to have its own UCI World Championships. First held in 1984, the annual UCI World Championships dedicated uniquely to trials continued until 1999. Trials joined the Mountain Bike Championships from 2000 to 2016, and now becomes one of three cycling disciplines at the first UCI Urban Cycling World Championships, to take place in Chengdu, China on November 8-12.
The sport originated in Spain, and grew out of motorcycle trials. Originally, the sport was practiced on 20" wheel bikes for Elite and Junior Men. A competition for bikes with 26" wheels was introduced for the two Men’s category in 1995, with a separate Women's competition added in 2001. Nations also compete in the team event, which includes riders from each category.
Trials requires riders to demonstrate their bike handling skills, balance, strength and speed over obstacle courses, known as sections. A new race format will be introduced for these first UCI Urban Cycling World Championships in which the goal is to collect the maximum number of points in the allowed time across the five sections.
The concept is simple: cross the gates without setting either foot or part of the bike - except the tyres - on the ground or any of the obstacles. Ten points are collected at every gate crossed "clean". The best score possible per section is 60 points. The rider with the highest score after every section has been completed by all competitors is the winner.
In the original 20" Men's category, Spain has dominated like no other nation, winning an incredible 23 of 31 world titles, and 53 out of 93 medals awarded. Spain has won every title in the past decade. In recent years, it has been a battle between two Spanish riders - Benito Ros (eight titles since 2003) and Abel Mustieles (five titles in the last six years, including the last two UCI World Championships). The new generation is pushing hard with riders such as Lucien Leiser from Switzerland (silver medal in 2015), the Austrian rider Thomas Pechhacker or the German rider Dominik Oswald, who finished third, fourth and fifth in the 2017 UCI World Cup .
France has dominated the Men's 26" in the same way Spain has the 20", with 16 world titles out of 22 awarded, and 42 of the 66 medals awarded in total. French riders Vincent Hermance and Gilles Coustellier have won five of the last six titles between them, although Great Britain's Jack Carthy is the defending UCI World Champion. These three took the top three spots in the 2017 UCI Trials World Cup (Coustellier/Carthy/Hermance), so expect a battle in Chengdu. Not to be overlooked either is the double Junior UCI World Champion Nicolas Vallée (France), who won the third round of this year’s UCI World Cup or the experienced Kenny Belaey: the Belgian has finished on the podium for the last 13 years with four gold medals, two silver and seven bronze.
The Women's competition was dominated until 2011 by Switzerland's Karin Moor, who won nine titles in the first 11 years before retiring. Since then, there have been four riders in the past five years to don the rainbow jersey, with the favourite for Chengdu being defending champion Nina Reichenbach of Germany, who won four of five rounds in the UCI Trials World Cup this season. Her biggest challenger is the young, up-and-coming Manon Basseville (France), the only other rider to win a World Cup round this season. But don’t rule out Australia’s Janine Jungfels, UCI World Champion in 2015.