The 2019 UCI Trials World Youth Games provided some amazing spectacles this weekend in Wadowice, Poland, showcasing the unfettered talent of the very best under-16s across six categories. 158 riders from 16 countries took to the purpose-built course - rocks, railway sleepers, concrete pipes and logs - in Wadowice’s John Paul II Square.
Trials is a test of skill, balance, strength, observation, endurance and speed: these qualities were exceptionally well demonstrated by the riders in this year’s Trials Youth Games. Each rider goes through five sections, with the scoring system now awarding 10 points at each of six gates they cross “clean” - i.e. when the rider completes the obstacles without putting either foot down or otherwise making contact with the ground with anything other than their low-pressure soft compound tyres!
Spain headed the medals table at the end of weekend with five gold, two silver and three bronze. Japan was the only other nation to win gold (two gold plus a silver) while the Czech Republic celebrated three silver and four bronze. The remaining two medals went to Germany (one silver) and Poland (one bronze).
Following the Youth National Teams competition on Friday, Saturday saw the semi-finals in six categories, which produced the start lists for the back-to-back two-lap finals on Sunday.
Youth National Teams
In the Youth National Teams competition, each country was represented by riders from both genders and all age categories. They each rode one lap comprising five sectors, with their points being added together for a team total. Spain emerged as tvictors with 650 points followed by Japan on 520 and the Czech Republic totalling 490, France with 450 and Germany on 420 points. The team event was a perfect run-in to the individual age category competitions. Here’s how they went:
The Poussins – boys aged 9-10 – set the high standards for the weekend from the outstart. Six countries were represented by the 12 riders who progressed from the semi-finals to Sunday’s final. Spain’s Alvaro Gimenez was the first competitor to complete two full clean laps and post a perfect 600 points. Michel Nagy of Slovakia and Alex Rodriguez of Spain followed closely on 590 and 580 points respectively. Could they keep up that amazing scoring in the final?
Yes! Young Gimenez hit another flawless two laps to win. Czech rider Jiri Shenal was so close in second on 590, Adam Szlaga from Poland was third on 540 with Britain’s Eddie Weightman just behind on 530 and Nagy overcoming a nervy start to reclaim his form and take fifth.
In the Youth Girls – aged 9-11 – competition there was a very strong showing from the Spanish and Czech riders, seven of the eight who progressed from Saturday’s semi-final to Sunday’s final coming from those two nations. Seira Hitomi of Japan was the only other girl breaking through. Spain’s Alba Riera was the only rider completely clear in this category, earning the maximum 600 points.
And it was Riera who triumphed in the final, rightly very proud to repeat her feat of two completely clean laps and a highest possible score of 600 points. She led an all-Spanish/Czech top five ahead of Alzběta Vaněčková second on 480 points, Andrea Pérez third scoring 440, Noa Rusca with 230 points and Stěpanká Mudrychová fifth with 210.
As for the Benjamins – boys aged 11-12 –, Saturday’s semi-finals were topped by two Spanish boys each scoring a maximum 600 points: Joan Fusalba and Travis Asenjo. Japan’s Torai Yamashita was not far back, on 590 points. The 12 riders representing six different nations who progressed to the finals all scored 550 points or more!
The Benjamins final was nail-bitingly close. The first four riders all finished on 590 points – that means each of these highly-talented under-12s put a foot down only once during the whole of the two laps of the final. To decide the medals, a count-back of complete clean sections during the semi-finals was required.
This resulted in victory for Spain’s Travis Asenjo, followed by Germany’s Viktor Ellert, and the Czech Republic’s Vojtěch Hribek and Jakub Kalas tied on the third. Young Spaniard Mikel Azcona must be astonished that his super round of 570 points was only good enough for fifth place!
Competitions in the Minimes – 13-14-year-old boys – was fierce. Of the 32 competitors from 15 different nations who started, the 12 riders from seven nations who did best in the semis, each scored more than 500 points. Jordi Tulleuda and Daniel Cegarra of Spain and Luka Pasturel of France set the bar particularly high!
And in the final it was Japan’s Kotaro Yokatao who took the gold medal in style – replicating his strong show in Friday’s Youth Nations Games – with 540 points, narrowly overcoming Cegarra who took sliver with 520 points. It was incredibly close for bronze with the Czech Republic’s René Vymetal third on 490, edging out young French rider Luka Pasturel on the same count (but with fewer “60s”) and Finland’s Niilo Stenvall on 480 in fifth.
Of the 15 riders in the Girls category – for ages 12-15 – the eight who made it through to the final came from five different nations. In the semis, Spain’s Vera Barón – who is already making a name for herself in the senior ranks – rode clean on both laps to earn 600 points. She was closely followed by the Czech pair of Eliška Hřibková and Denisa Pecháčková.
And in the finals, it was a Spanish winner…but not Barón: Lais Esquis put in a superb 530-points ride to take gold, narrowly beating Hřibková into silver who posted the same score but with one less clean section. Barón took the bronze on 480, with Pecháčková and Swiss rider Sheyla Wipf both scoring 420 points. The Czech girl claimed fourth place.
In the Cadets – 15-16-year-old boys – the top three from the semi-finals were Alan Rovira of Spain with a maximum of 600 points followed by his two compatriots Martí Riera and Nil Benítez, each with 580 points. Of the 27 competitors, 12 riders from eight nations made it through to the finals and competed across two laps.
In the final Haru Agura – who had reached the final in fourth place – put two superb laps together to win Japan’s second gold medal of the day! His score of 540 points was 100 more than the next three riders whose results were decided by counting their maximum of 60s. The young Spanish pairing of Rovira and Riera were awarded the silver and bronze medals respectively. France’s Charles Chibaudel was fourth with Italy’s Diego Crescenzi ranking fifth with 390 points.
With the best of the under-16s already hitting the “adult” Elite categories, and with every younger age-group showing astonishing potential, the up-coming crop of world class trials riders is extremely exciting.