From never having previously competed in the Championship to eventually finishing fifth, Gelabert fought throughout the campaign for the bronze medal. Looking back, he reflects on the season positively: “Neither I nor the team expected to do so well. We knew that we could keep finishing in the top six and try to qualify for each X-Trial as best event rider, but we didn’t really think we could be fighting for third in the world. In the end it wasn’t to be, but I was very close. My best results provided extra motivation and gave me additional energy to keep working, training and fighting for the top positions. It’s clear that without the series promoters’ decision to support young riders and give them the opportunity to fight for a place in the World Championship, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
But Gelabert does not just dwell on his satisfaction with the season; he is already considering his future: “I have always wanted to be among the world’s best, and if you don’t believe in it, you don’t work as hard. But when things are going well and you are getting results, you realise it is possible and you have to keep pushing and train more than anyone else to get the better of them. So I have seen this year that I can be among the front-runners in the X-Trial World Championship, and now I’m going to work hard to achieve it. Thinking about the title at the moment is challenging, because Toni is so strong and dominating the discipline. So the aim is to make it onto the Championship podium and to fight each weekend for it. It’s about working hard, trying to get better every day and never stop growing and improving. That’s the only path towards victories and titles. Nothing can be achieved without determination, hard work, effort and a will to improve.”
In his first World Championship season, Gelabert has already experienced head-to-head competition with Toni Bou, after making it to the Final at X-Trial Strasbourg. In only his third appearance in the series, Gelabert was ill-prepared for such a contest: “Initially I wouldn’t have expected to make the podium in only my third appearance, but given how things progressed it wasn’t such a stretch. In Toulouse I was only one mark from third position, because of a fall whilst trying to get a clean on an important section. And that showed me how close I was to the podium; I was happy with my riding. I took motivation from that and was determined to challenge for the Final in the next round.”
For Gelabert, Toni Bou is more than just a rival to be beaten on the way to the World Championship title. “Toni is the reference, the model to be followed. He is exceptional as a rider and as a person. He is undoubtedly the greatest rider in the history of the sport. I think the biggest thing about him is that despite how hard he works and how talented he is, he still enjoys riding, and that’s the attitude that helps him to stand out”.
To accomplish his next objectives and improve on his fifth position from the 2018 season, Gelabert is preparing very specific training both technically and physically: “My training for X-Trial is all about searching for precision in my riding, maintaining my balance, working on high sections in small space and focusing on explosivity. Physically, it’s about cardiovascular workouts, because to complete six sections in six minutes requires incredible effort and physical wellbeing. When I train, I carry out multiple sections consecutively and only give myself the time I would have in a real situation. It is clear that if you aren’t physically strong you might be able to hold out for the first few sections, but then your performance would start to drop and you would have arm problems. So for this level of stamina, the riders require a lot of training and exercise. But from the perspective of the spectator, the new format offers a lot more rhythm, more intensity to the competition. And you know very well what it has done to the classification as well. I made my debut under this format, and I think it is well thought out..”
Miquel Gelabert now wants to continue his development into one of the favourites of the X-Trial World Championship, in line with the growth that he sees for the series in the future: “I think that if all of us, organisers and riders, continue working hard, the Championship can grow a lot more both in terms of its popularity and in sporting terms. It’s clear that if the sport is widely viewed, we will grow alongside it. That’s why we are working together in the same direction, progressing X-Trial as a sport and show. Fans are enjoying comfortable seats and seeing their stars competing at the highest level, which is one of the biggest factors that will help the growth of this discipline.”