The 2019 FIM Trial des Nations takes place this coming weekend on the holiday island of Ibiza but the best riders on the planet won’t be relaxing in the Mediterranean sun as they get ready to compete in what’s widely regarded as the biggest gathering of the Trial community.
Of course, Spain starts as favourites in the men’s category with top riders Toni Bou (Repsol Honda) Adam Raga (TRRS) and Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas).
The competition has been a shut-out for Spain since 2004 and 13-time World Champion Bou – who has been part of the winning team every year since 2005 – heads into the event on his home turf in a determined mood.
“The TdN is a special Trial where there is a very good atmosphere and we all have a great time,” he says. “Competing as a team is different for us because in the indoor and outdoor disciplines we compete by ourselves. We will try to have fun and go out to look for the victory in this Trial des Nations.”
On paper Spain’s closest competitors should be the British trio of James Dabill (Beta), Jack Price (Gas Gas) and Toby Martyn (Beta) but they know that they have a mountain to climb to repeat their last victory which came in 2003 at Lavarone in Italy.
Dabill has been part of Team GB every year since 2006 and has finished on the second step of the podium nine times so he has very realistic expectations heading to Ibiza.
“Spain always start as favourites,” he says. “They have done for a long while and that’s due to the level of riders they have but you can never say never and you have to go into the event feeling positive.
“But we’ve also got to be careful of the other teams as well. France are good and so are Italy and Japan.”
The most experienced rider in the event is Japanese star Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda) who made his debut in the competition all the way back in 1999 and, after ending the 2019 FIM Trial World Championship in third, will be pushing for a podium position alongside his team-mates Kenichi Kuroyama (Yamaha) and Tomoyuki Ogawa (Montesa).
“The TdN is a competition to enjoy,” he says, “and although it will be a bit difficult for us, we will try to have fun fighting for a good final place.”
This year 10 teams coming from Europe, Australia and United States will compete in the Women category.
The Women’s TdN looks set to be a much closer fought affair with the British ladies in charge following the 2018 event at Sokolov in the Czech Republic although Emma Bristow (Sherco), Jess Brown (Scorpa) and Donna Fox (Montesa) will be expecting strong opposition from Spain’s Sandra Gomez (TRRS), Berta Abellan (Vertigo) and Neus Murcia (Gas Gas).