Reigning SPEA FIM Indoor Trial World Champion Toni Bou - Repsol Montesa will open the defence of his title, and at the same time look to claim his fourth championship in a row when he begins his latest campaign on Saturday 9th January. It was at a packed Sheffield arena twelve months ago, that Bou began his assault for his third successive crown in style, with an emphatic opening victory in the series.
It would appear that Bou's biggest challenge will come from his two Spanish compatriots, in the form of Albert Cabestany - Sherco and Adam Raga - Gas Gas, who finished second and third respectively in last year's final indoor standings. Both of these riders will arrive at Sheffield with renewed motivation, but for two very different reasons.
Cabestany, who snatched the vice-champion position from Raga at the final round in Madrid back in March 2009, will be back on a two stroke after having campaigned a four stroke machine for the last couple of seasons. The new smaller and lighter Sherco model, launched late last year, looks the ideal tool for the technical demands of the indoor sections. This should give Albert a much needed boost as he goes in search of the kind of performance that netted him the SPEA FIM Indoor Trial World Championship back in 2002.
Raga on the otherhand, will begin the new season as a fully fit rider after having suffered with a knee injury and the post operation recovery process for most of 2009. By his own admission, Adam made too many mistakes during last season's indoor series to seriously challenge for a title that he had won four times on the bounce from 2003 onwards. The Gas Gas teamster has opted to miss several national status events over the last few months, in order to prepare correctly for the start of this year's championship, and therefore he should pose a greater threat to Bou's supremacy this time around.
The remaining fixed riders will all have to raise their game, if they are to break up this experienced Spanish trio, with Takahisa Fujinami - Repsol Montesa and Jeroni Fajardo - Beta being two such candidates. These more established riders will also have to resist the challenge of the younger contenders who will also compete in the entire series. James Dabill - Gas Gas returns to the tour having last been a fixed rider back in 2008, whilst Loris Gubian - Gas Gas and Alexz Wigg - Beta will make their debut as permanent members of the championship after having made wild card appearances in the past.
Local organiser Avondale Management has ensured that the opening encounter of the 2010 SPEA FIM Indoor Trial World Championship will be a fierce occasion, with them having chosen Dougie Lampkin - Beta and Michael Brown - Sherco as their two wild card riders. These two are sure to be a popular inclusion for the home fans, with Brown being the current British champion and Lampkin having previously won this event no less than eight times.
Only eight of the ten riders will progress from qualifying to the Trial itself, before the new three part elimination system comes into play, so a tense and thrilling evening is just about guaranteed.