Spain’s three-rider team consisting of Laia Sanz – Gas Gas, Sandra Gomez – Gas Gas and Mireia Conde – Beta clinched victory for the third year in a row at the FIM Women’s Trial des Nations, this time hosted in Moutier, Switzerland.
This latest win sees Spain take their tally to six titles since the female category was added to the annual team competition back in 2000. Once again Spain endured a day-long battle with their close rivals Great Britain who eventually ended the event as runners-up also for the third year in succession. Like twelve months ago Spain’s winning margin was a mere five marks after two laps of fierce competition. France completed the podium places ten marks further back, with the best two scores in each section by the three riders counting towards the final team total.
The British squad of Emma Bristow – Ossa, Rebekah Cook – Beta and Donna Fox – Beta kept the reigning champions under pressure right until the final man-made section back in the start / finish hall where a large crowd had gathered to witness this tense conclusion. Britain started the Trial as perhaps the slight favourites based on their recent individual performances, and the fact that further rain had made conditions in the hazards more to their liking than their southern European counterparts. Despite these circumstances and much thanks to Sanz’s absolute superiority, Spain opened up a healthy advantage as the first lap developed. However this was all but destroyed as they failed in the penultimate hazard, and went into the second lap with just a two-mark lead over Great Britain.
As on the opening lap the fifth section proved to be decisive as Spain saw one of their riders reach the ends cards to record a total of eight (five plus three), as opposed to Britain who racked up a maximum ten marks (five plus five) as they had done the lap before when Spain had dropped only six (five plus one) in the same hazard. From that point on Spain rode with renewed confidence and maintained their advantage right to the finish to make it a hat-trick of victories for the young Spanish squad. With Great Britain once again having to settle for second spot, it was France who were a surprise addition to the podium as they edged out the more fancied German team.
The French trio of Marilyne Journet – Beta, Sandrine Juffet – JTG and Pauline Masanes – Gas Gas produced two strong laps to beat the German line up of Theresa Bauml – Gas Gas, Ina Wilde – Sherco and Jessica Wulf – Beta by seven marks come the finish. The American team represented by Caroline Allen – Gas Gas, Louise Forsley – Sherco and Rachel Hassler – Gas Gas recorded a well deserved fifth position only five marks behind Germany to make their long trip over to Europe very worthwhile.
In the wet and muddy conditions, which were added to by several heavy showers throughout the day, it was the Italian squad of Martina Balducchi – Scorpa, Elisa Peretti – Gas Gas and Sara Trentini - Beta who seemed to suffer the most. Fifth at their home event last year, on paper Italy looked like they had the potential to move higher up the order this time out, however they simply failed to perform to their full potential on the day.
Norway, Australia, Sweden and Portugal completed the top ten respectively, with the host nation of Switzerland grabbing eleventh spot as they entered a Women’s team for the very first time.
Tomorrow will see the attention shift to male competitors, as Moutier hosts the 2012 FIM Trial des Nations.