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FIM TRIAL DES NATIONS – SPAIN SET TO REIGN AGAIN?

Champions for the last thirteen years, Spain have home advantage for this coming weekend’s 2017 FIM Trial des Nations at Baiona and start as overwhelming favourites following their clean sheet last year.

It is not a foregone conclusion, but with their team comprising Toni Bou – Repsol Honda, Adam Raga – TRRS and Jaime Busto – Repsol Honda the Spanish are fielding the three top-ranked riders in the 2017 FIM Trial World Championship.

Bou has represented Spain twelve times at the TDN and has never tasted defeat while Raga has only lost twice in sixteen appearances so both are hugely experienced in dealing with the unique pressures that come with riding for your country.

Busto on the other hand will be making his debut after pushing Albert Cabestany – Sherco out of the team following the veteran’s unbroken run of eighteen TDNs and this lack of experience could be Spain’s weak point – if they possess one!

The big question is who has the potential to exploit any weaknesses the Spanish trio may display?

Podium finishers for the past two years, Japan are fielding the same team of Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda, Kenichi Kuroyama – Yamaha and Tomoyuki Ogawa – Honda that finished second in 2016, one mark ahead of Great Britain.

The British are also sticking with their 2016 selection with James Dabill – Gas Gas, Jack Price – Gas Gas and Iwan Roberts – Beta and if it boils down to a Japan versus Great Britain battle for the remaining podium positions then it will again be a contest of experience versus youth.

Amazingly, Japan’s current team first contested the TDN together in 1999 and Kuroyama and Ogawa’s participation in the event goes back to 1995. By contrast, while this will be Dabill’s twelfth TDN, Price and Roberts only made their debut in 2016, but following another year’s competition on the World stage both are very much improved.

Price has ended his first season in TrialGP in thirteenth and Roberts was crowned FIM Trial2 World Champion last weekend – add this to Dabill’s 2017 ranking of sixth and the British team must surely fancy their chances of overcoming the challenge from fifth-ranked Fujinami and Kuroyama and Ogawa who both struggled to make an impression at TrialGP Japan back in May.

With last year’s International class winners Germany elevated into the World category there are four more nations in the hunt with France leading the challenge based on the 2016 result.

Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco is the veteran of the team with eight previous TDNs under his belt while Benoit Bincaz – Scorpa only made his debut last year and for Teo Colairo – Beta this will be his first taste of the competition. Ferrer is ranked fifteenth in the World – one place ahead of Bincaz – and with Colairo struggling to twelfth in Trial2 on paper they look outclassed.

Italy only boasts Matteo Grattarola – Gas Gas in the elite TrialGP class where he finished tenth this season. With the Italian Federation opting against picking riders from Trial2, he is backed up by the inexperienced Gianluca Tournour – Gas Gas and veteran Daniele Maurino – Scorpa which puts the Italians at a big disadvantage.

Norway’s hopes also look slim with Hakon Pedersen – Gas Gas, who’s ranked tenth in Trial2, supported by Sondre Haga – Gas Gas and Ib Anderson who finished fourteenth and nineteenth in Trial2 this year. Franz Kadlec – Gas Gas has broken into the TrialGP top ten this season, but with Max Faude – Beta and Jarmo Robrahn completing the team this year’s TDN will be a steep learning curve for Germany.

Winners of the Women TDN title for the last four years, Great Britain have made one change from last year’s team with reigning FIM TrialGP Women Champion Emma Bristow – Sherco and Donna Fox – Sherco being joined by Jess Brown – Scorpa who has replaced Rebekah Cook.

Their main opposition should come once again from Spain with Sandra Gomez – Gas Gas, Berta Abellan – Beta and Maria Giro – Beta representing their country for the second consecutive year after finishing as runners up in 2016.

Bown was sixth in this year’s TrialGP Women class and with Fox, who did not compete in the 2017 FIM Women’s Trial World Championship, fifth in 2016 it could be incredibly close with Gomez finishing second, Abellan fourth and Conde tenth this season.

Germany should also be in contention with Theresa Bauml – Beta and Ina Wilde – Gas Gas finishing third and fifth in TrialGP Women this year and Jule Steinert – TRRS ending the year second in Trial2 Women.

Out of the ten nations contesting the Women category, Norway’s Ingveig Hakonsen – Beta, Huldeborg Barkved – Sherco and Mette Fidje – Sherco could also challenge for a podium.

In the International class it is Sweden who start as heirs apparent to the title ahead of the Czech Republic and the USA in a hotly-contested division that features teams from thirteen nations.

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