Fifteen-year-old Vera Barón’s victory in Round 1 of the 2019 UCI Trials World Cup must rank as one of the most astonishing Elite debuts in any sport: to take the win, she beat reigning and three-time UCI World Cup winner, not to mention three-time UCI World Champion, Nina Reichenbach, of Germany.
While all eyes will be on Barón to see if she can repeat her feat in Round 2 in Val di Sole (Italy) this weekend, other teenage talents are ready to take on seasoned pros in every category. Let’s have a look at three who have already made their mark on this year’s competition.
Category – Women
Age – 15
Nationality – Spanish
Bike – Crewkerz Jealousy Ultimate 20”
2019 UCI Trials World Cup Round 1 - 1st
Achieving a stunning 270-point victory and seeing off Reichenbach, the dominant force in women’s trials for the past three years, must have been more than Barón could have ever dreamt of for her UCI World Cup debut.
That said, Barón is no stranger to serious competition having started her career in 2012 at just seven years old. A keen competitor at the UCI Trials World Youth Games, Barón took her first gold medal in the Girls category of the competition in 2017 and repeated the achievement a year later.
Although Barón did not clinch her third Trials World Youth Games win in a row – finishing in bronze medal position in Wadowice 2019, she has certainly kicked off her UCI World Cup career with a serious bang and will undoubtedly be challenging for top honours at an Elite level for many years to come.
Category – 20”
Age – 18
Nationality – Spanish
Bike – Jitsie Varial Race 20”
2019 UCI Trials World Cup Round 1 – 1st
Vera Barón was not the only teenager to claim victory in Round 1 of this year’s UCI World Cup: Alejandro Montalvo in the 20” category.
Admittedly, Montalvo’s Salzburg win was less of a shock than Baron’s, given his overall victory in the competition last year, beating favourite and 2018 UCI World Champion, Thomas Pechhacker, in the process.
Turning 19 next month, Montalvo will now be eligible to compete in his first Elite UCI World Championships: he was crowned 20” Junior UCI World Champion in 2017 and 2018, and he has had many other successes at that level.
Keep an extremely close eye on this highly talented rider throughout the 2019 season. Not only is he on course to retain his UCI World Cup title but he will undoubtedly be impressing in his debut at Elite level at the UCI World Championships (in Chengdu, China, in November).
Category – 26”
Age – 17
Nationality – German
Bike – Crewkerz Jealousy Ultimate 26”
2019 UCI Trials World Cup Round 1 – 4th
2018 marked Oliver Widmann’s first full foray into UCI World Cup competition and it was an impressive debut that saw him ranked 15th in the competition’s final standings. He capped off a successful season by claiming the title of 26” Junior UCI World Champion in Chengdu, China.
After a previous best of 4th in the UCI World Championships in 2017, the 2018 Junior World title is Widmann’s best achievement to date, topping a haul of decent placings and podium finishes at Junior level and in Youth competitions.
Widmann narrowly missing out on a podium finish at Round 1 of the 2019 UCI World Cup in Salzburg, his best result at Elite level. Can the German teenager, who turns 18 this week, make his mark in the incredibly tough Elite 26” scene dominated by fierce and experienced competitors such as Jack Carthy, Nicolas Vallée, Abel Mustieles and Vincent Hermance? We shall be watching with great interest.
While each of these three riders is putting serious pressure on the old guard, there are yet more teenagers aiming to follow in their footsteps and cause upsets of their own.
In the Women’s category, 17-year-old Czech rider Alzbeta Pecinkova finished 4th in Round 1, while in the 20” class, Julen Saenz of Spain and British rider Charlie Rolls finished 6th and 7th respectively. The established riders in the 26” class have proved harder to break by the more youthful competitors, but Vito Gonzalez of Switzerland and Spaniard Daniel Barón are pushing them hard nonetheless.
With so much young talent increasing the level of performance in the sport ever forwards, the future is extremely bright for competitive trials. See how the young guns perform when the action unfolds once more in Round 2 of the 2019 UCI Trials World Cup in Vermiglio, Val di Sole, Italy, 23 to 25 August.