The best riders on the planet fire back into action this coming weekend when round three of the 2022 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship – the TrialGP of Germany – is staged at Neunkirchen from July 8-10.
The venue, around 60 miles east of Cologne, will welcome the series to the country for the first time since 2016 and riders can expect a selection of man-made sections comprising giant rocks and huge concrete slabs as well as more natural hazards plotted in a super-steep wooded valley.
Already with two rounds and four points-scoring days under their belts, the TrialGP, TrialGP Women and Trial2 classes will be joined for the first time this season by Trial2 Women athletes with two days of championship competition scheduled over the weekend.
Toni Bou (Montesa) will start favourite – although the 15-time champion hasn’t had it all his own way so far this year and has already suffered two defeats.
The 35-year-old Spanish superstar is still in control at the top of the TrialGP standings thanks to day wins in Spain and Andorra coupled with a pair of runner-up finishes that give him an 11-point lead over his compatriot Adam Raga (TRRS) who won on the opening day in the Pyrenean principality.
Raga, a two-time world champ, has been runner-up behind Bou since 2007 and would dearly like to complete his hat-trick of titles but the next generation of trial stars – led by Jaime Busto (Vertigo) – is nipping at his heels.
The 24-year-old from Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain won on the opening day of the championship at L’Hospitalet de L’Infant to claim just his second career-win and despite finishing off the podium on both days in Andorra – and, as a result, already trailing Bou by 15 points – he remains a genuine title threat.
Jeroni Fajardo (Sherco) started slowly in Spain until a pair of third-placed finishes in Andorra helped him build momentum but he’s 14 four points adrift of Busto while Jorge Casales (Scorpa) sits fifth – another point off the pace – and is still looking for his first podium of the season.
One of the biggest stories to come out of the opening round in Spain were the performances of Miquel Gelabert (GASGAS) and his brother Aniol (Beta). On day one Miquel was third for just the second time in his career since graduating to the premier class in 2016 and Aniol, who at 21 is three years younger than his brother, was an incredible fourth on his TrialGP class debut.
Both could very well feature at the sharp end in Germany, as could their fellow Spaniard and 2019 Trial2 champion Gabriel Marcelli (Montesa) who separates the siblings in seventh in the standings.
After losing her title last season, TrialGP Women favourite Emma Bristow (Sherco) has her sights set on an incredible eighth crown and is in pole position with just a second-placed finish on the opening day in Andorra spoiling the British rider’s perfect record in 2022.
Her main opposition should come from Spain’s Berta Abellan (Scorpa) – who inflicted Bristow’s sole defeat this year – who is six points behind in second but 2020 Trial2 Women champion Naomi Monnier (GASGAS) from France, Andrea Sofia Rabino (Beta) from Italy – Trial2 Women champion last season – and Norway’s Huldeborg Barkved (GASGAS) could all be in the mix.
Spain’s Pablo Suarez (Montesa) claimed a dominant double win in Trial2 at the opening round but the 21-year-old stuttered in Andorra with 3-6 finishes while Billy Green (Scorpa) and Italy’s Lorenzo Gandola (Beta) shared the wins between them.
As a result, Suarez’s championship lead has been cut to just one point ahead of super-consistent Norwegian rider Sondre Haga (Beta) who has yet to finish off the podium.
Green is another seven points behind in third before a big gap to his fellow British rider Jack Peace (Sherco).
With 2021 queen Rabino moving up, the way is clear for a new Trial2 Women champion and – at least on paper – the front runner has to be Sara Trentini (Vertigo).
Series runner-up last season, the 31-year-old Italian will face stiff opposition from British rider Kaytlyn Adshead (TRRS) who was third in 2021 and Germany’s Sophia Ter Jung (TRRS) but we will know a lot more after this weekend.
The action at Neunkirchen kicks off at noon on Friday with official practice before the first of two scoring days gets under way on Saturday.
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