This Sunday the all-conquering Spanish team once again start as odds-on favourites to lift the FIM Trial des Nations trophy for the thirteenth straight occasion and a mighty twenty third time in total since the event was first staged in 1984, despite France, the host nation this year, winning on the first four occasions.
The 2016 FIM Trial des Nations, which brings the outdoor season to a close on Sunday, following the final round of the Women’s Championship on Friday, and the FIM Women’s Trial des Nations on Saturday, will take place in the ski resort of Isola 2000, in the southern French alps.
This year there is a change to the rules in that teams will comprise of just three riders instead of the previous four and Spain go with ten times FIM Trial World Champion Toni Bou – Repsol Honda, vice champion Adam Raga –TRS and Albert Cabestany - Sherco, fourth in the final 2016 standings. Jeroni Fajardo - Vertigo a member of the winning squad on the last ten occasions, is the rider who misses out.
Spain face opposition from six countries in the World Championship group; host country France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Norway. Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda, at thirty-six-years-old is actually the youngest member of the Japanese team, joined by Kenichi Kuroyama – Yamaha at thirty-eight and Tomoyuki Ogawa – Honda aged thirty-nine.
Great Britain go for experience and youth as Jack Price – Gas Gas and Iwan Roberts - Beta, first and second in 2016 Trial2, join world ranked number seven James Dabill –Vertigo. The home nation relies on the experienced Alexandre Ferrer –Sherco, Loris Gubian –Beta and nineteen-year-old Benoit Bincaz –Scorpa.
The International Trophy Group boasts no fewer than eighteen countries and picking a winner is almost impossible. The last five years has seen the Czech Republic and Germany trade victories with three wins for Germany and two for the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic were on top in 2015 and go with three riders from last year’s winning team (Jiri Svoboda misses out) Martin Kroustek - Vertigo, Martin Matijicek – Gas Gas and Marek Wunsch – Gas Gas hoping to retain their title.
On Saturday a total of thirteen female teams will contest the FIM Women’s Trial des Nations, comprising of eleven nations plus two mixed International teams. After winning the trophy for the last three years Great Britain go with an unchanged squad of recently crowned FIM Women’s Trial World Champion Emma Bristow – Sherco, Rebekah Cook – TRS and Donna Fox – Sherco.
Spain look the strongest opposition with Sandra Gomez – Gas Gas, Mireia Conde – Beta and teenager Berta Abellan –Beta while the host nation go for a very young team that includes Marine Aurieres – Beta aged just seventeen and two eighteen-year-olds Laurence Dugnas –Scorpa and Laurie Ehrhart –Sherco.