This coming Saturday, 4th January, just a few days into the new year, will see the 2014 FIM X-Trial World Championship get underway as the British city of Sheffield welcomes the opening event of the new campaign. The Motorpoint Arena on the outskirts of what was once the capital to steel production in the UK is a familiar starting place to the series with the venue having been the initial battleground for the indoor title fight on numerous occasions over the last two decades.
Currently the 2014 FIM X-Trial World Championship is scheduled to visit six individual cities and four countries to deliver six separate rounds of action to decide the eventual winner over the next three-month period. From the island of Great Britain the tour is set to then move on to France before then arriving at the famous Olympic facility high on the hill over looking Barcelona. With five Spanish competitors listed amongst the eight fixed riders their homecoming is sure to be a noisy one, in what is the largest capacity arena of the series.
Although Italy has no representative in the permanent entry list, the fourth round in Milan is still sure to be an important occasion with the potential to add a home grown wildcard or two to the mix to further excite the already passionate Italian fans. Absent from last year’s calendar the re-inclusion of the Italian city is a welcome boost to the series, especially given the rich history of the sport in this country.
Last season Nice played host to the closing round of the championship, but this time around will occupy the last but one stop on the tour. The beautiful city on the southern French coast is no stranger to hosting such big occasions and has a reputation of creating some close and enthralling battles out on the floor of the Palais Nikaia arena over the years. The presence of France’s highest ranked rider on the World stage as one of the permanent entrants, namely Loris Gubian is sure to add flavor to the evening when the action reaches Nice in late March.
The Spanish capital of Madrid has the honour of bringing the 2014 FIM X-Trial World Championship to a close, with a high chance of the home riders featuring at the sharp end of the title race come this stage in the proceedings. The Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid arena is sure to provide a fitting setting for the climax to the 2014 campaign, with the attractions of the city close at hand for the eventual champion to celebrate late into the night.
A new and more dynamic format will await the challengers and contenders when the lights come up on the Sheffield stage. Fans will be entertained, as the World’s best riders are pitted head to head in a knockout style process that will eventually determine the winner come the end of the evening. Although reigning and already seven times FIM Indoor / X-Trial World Champion Toni Bou – Repsol Montesa will start the season as the clear favourite to make it a straight eight, his route to the crown maybe a bit tougher this time around.
The chasing pack of permanent riders will include the usual candidates, which will be led by last year’s runner-up Adam Raga – Gas Gas, fellow Spanish compatriots Albert Cabestany – Sherco, Jeroni Fajardo – Beta and 2013 FIM Junior Trial World Cup winner Jorge Casales – Gas Gas. Others nations will be represented by Japan’s Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Montesa, James Dabill – Beta, from Great Britain and the previously mentioned Loris Gubian who will be flying the flag for France. This coming Saturday evening, battle will once again commence amongst these motorised gladiators.