Can anyone stop Spaniard Laia Sanz – Repsol Montesa in her quest to claim her eleventh FIM Women's Trial World Championship? That is the question most are asking in the run up to the start of the 2011 campaign, as the entourage of female riders head to Germany for the opening round of the three leg series this weekend.
The town of Grossheubach, Germany will play host to the first Grand Prix of the 2011 FIM Women's Trial World Championship, which will also visit the Czech Republic and Italy for the penultimate and final stops of the tour. Twenty-five year old Spaniard Laia Sanz remains one of the most well respected riders in the championship paddock. Not only has she claimed the Women's title an amazing ten times since it was first introduced in 2000, but she also continues to be the only female rider to compete in the SPEA FIM Junior World Championship.
First lifting the Women's championship when she was just fourteen years old, Sanz has claimed all but one title since then, with 2007 acting as the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record of achievement when Iris Kramer – Gas Gas demoted her to second. Since Iris's retirement from international competition at the end of 2009, Sanz has reinforced her authority at the very highest level of the sport.
Despite having dominated her category for such a prolonged period of time, the fiery Spaniard continues to be as passionate about the sport today, as the day that she first began. When it was announced earlier in the year that her rival Joanne Coles had retired, Laia was understandably disappointed. Joanne had shown great potential having finished third in the 2010 FIM Women's Trial World Championship, behind Sanz and compatriot Rebekah Cook - Sherco respectively.
"For sure I want to win the opening round of the series, though I always try to ride the championship one event at a time and that is how I will arrive in Germany. I have ridden in Grossheubach once before in 2000 for a round of the European championship, however a lot of time has passed since then so the venue may have changed a bit."
"When I heard that Joanne Coles had retired I was disappointed. She was not at her best yet and as she was only young I think she would have been a World champion in the future. Rebekah Cook has been improving for the last few years and now she is pushing me all the way. Last year she came close to winning the second round of the championship in the Czech Republic and I had to fight hard to take the win - this year I think she will be even better. I must also keep my eye on Emma Bristow – Ossa who is on a new machine this season and could be very good."
"I have ridden for a long time, but I still feel motivated to win more World titles. I am still young and want to stay at the top of my sport. Every year the Women's championship gets better and this year should be the best yet. We have some brilliant young riders coming through, but I am determined to take my eleventh World championship."