WBC 2017 06There are many things I want to share about this year’s WBC. Let's try to cover them all.

As you all probably know, it was a small town of Pujalt, in the Anoia region in Catalunya, which hosted the WBC 2017.

I believe the host did an incredible job just in two months due to the unexpected renunciation of the previous organizer (Bueu, Galicia, Spain). And I can probably say that nothing was missing. Speaking to so many riders and families at the camp, all of us, including me, were a bit worried about this “last-minute WBC”, but we all went back home with a good experience to share.
The camp was just a stone throw away from the astronomical observatory (eh, yes. You read it well!). The facilities included a self-service bar / restaurant, bathrooms and a marquee offering welcomed shade and a place for team meals. A nice pool, situated next to the camp, was probably the most visited attraction during the whole championship. Offices and race direction were located in the old town square of Pujalt from where the riders were starting each race and where the artificial sections were set up. The technical organization of the race was carried out by Ocisport, which has organized all the world championships in Catalunya in recent years (Igualada 2012 and 2013; Odena 2014 and 2015).

When it comes to technical aspects, the first race took place in 7 natural sections plus 1 made with stones for group B (Poussin, Benjamin, Minime, Femina and Major) and 7 natural zones plus 3 artificial ones in the center of the town for group A (Junior, Senior and Elite). The natural sections were a classic Catalan “earthy-woody-dusty-full of stones” ground. They were very difficult to ride and it was important to remain concentrated in every single passage, because the zones could betray you easily. A truly natural BikeTrial race! The second race took place in a nearby stone quarry called "La Cantera" which offered a variety of sections. Riders managed tricks on stones of different sizes, other sections were a kind of "up and down" on the wall of the quarry including one in a crazy “downhill style”. Group B had all 8 zones there, while Group A only 7 plus 3 artificial sections in the old town in order to adjust the format of the finals for spectators and for purposes of the Catalan TV which was present during the last day of the championship. It’s a good idea for riders, sponsors and the town. It would be better to speed up the format though. The riders waited for too long after the natural sections, therefore, it was difficult for them to start again after more than four hour race.WBC 2017 04
As for the results, in the Poussin category Travis Asenjo Jandackova (ES) won, Joan Fusalba Valderrey (CAT) was second and Jiri Sehnal (CZ) third. In this case Fusalba Valderrey comes second for the second consecutive time.

In the Benjamin category big battle between Oliver Weightman (UK) and Rene Vymetal (CZ). The two riders were fighting it really close. In the end the British rider got the title for less overall penalties. Third Ibai Herrero Diaz (ES).
In the Minime category Adam Morewood (UK) showed his incredible skills winning both races with big difference from other riders. Daniel Baron Rodrigues (ES) was second. Max Serra Val (CAT) was third.
In the Junior category Louis Grillon (FR) was like from another universe compared to his opponents. Second place Ondrej Krupchik (CZ) and third Ramon Enrich Diaz CAT). It is always a pleasure to see Grillon in the sections. This guy is totally ready for the Elite and it will be interesting to see him riding at that level.

In the Femina category Vera Baron Rodriguez (ES) got the title winning both races. The little Eliska Hribkova (CZ) got the second place. Third place went to Iva Antlova (CZ).
In the Senior 20, the Italian rider Luca Tombini won both races and got the title for the first time in his career. The first race was won with more “zeros” after a great battle with a British rider Owen Gawthorpe, who came second in the championship. Marek Hlavka (CZ) took the third place.

In the senior 26, the highlander Juan Pedro Garcia won both races and the title. In the second place Sergio Fernandez Resines (ES). In third place Huang Wu Yu from China. In this category is impossible not to mention the performance of Vittorio Brumotti who took part in first race with a classic road bike! Very appreciated and acclaimed in the sections as he managed passages that were difficult also for riders with normal BikeTrial bikes.

In the Elite 26, there was no match for Ben Savage (UK) who won the second consecutive title. Second place for Ansis Dermaks (LV). Third place for Angel Battle (CAT).

WBC 2017 05In the most important category, the Elite 20, Vaclav “Vashek” Kolar won his forth consecutive title. His technical skills are too good for his opponents at this point. However, in the first race he also struggled a bit. The sections were difficult to manage and it was a tight race with the immortal Raul Gutierrez from Spain (this was the 21th world championship for him!) and Zhao Xuan (CN). At the end of the first round the three riders were tied in a penalty. From the third zone of the second lap Vashek was able to find his own way to manage the sections and to "flow" on the obstacles as only he can do. From that moment the battle was over. In the second race, however, the result was never questioned. The winning was already secured by Vashek three zones from the end. A great battle for second place continued. In the end, Zhao preceeded the Catalan Armand Molla. In the final classification Vashek precedes Zhao and Raul. It’s worth to mention the huge improvement of Chinese Zhao Xuan. He is known for his incredible explosivity that leads him to make incredible jumps, but he has always been vulnerable on the technical grounds. Just seeing him, one can understand that he has improved his way of riding the bike in natural sections. Very well done Zhao!

Finally, in the Major category (World Cup), the Spanish rider Daniel Cegarra won the title. In the second place another Spanish rider: Rafael Cano Gutierrez. David Budsky (CZ) got the third place. I’d like to point out that some of the riders in this category are more than 40 years old. They had to ride for more than 4 hours at 35 degrees. Absolutely remarkable!

In conclusion what does this championship leave us? So many good things and some other to think about.

One thing to note is the fact that there were no particular problems of judgment in the sections and no official claims. It may sound normal, but it's not so foregone. Other good thing is the success of the Major category in which 10 riders competed this year. This might mean a promising future for this category. For the third consecutive year, the Senior 26 also improved. The negative aspect was the general participation. It has dropped for the first time since we have a new formula of 2 or 3 races in a week. There are reasons for this, but I believe we shouldn’t be overly concerned. With a better scheduling, calendar and appropriate promotion, the entries can surely come up.

Another thing to consider is the huge decline of riders in red categories (Junior and Senior). The slow recovery of Senior 26 does not compensate for the general decline in recent years. The "red" riders are more and more involved in other type of races, or they only dedicate themselves to exhibitions. Unfortunately, BIU is no longer attractive to these guys and we are sad for that. However, we should probably take it as it is. There are many reasons for that and it would be too long to write them here.

Last, but not least, we would like to say THANK YOU to all people of Pujalt and all towns of Alta Anoia and Segarra who made us appreciate their territory, their history and their hospitality. We learned new things, visited new places, met new people. This is important. BIU is not only about the competition! If you like calm places in unspoilt surroundings and little old villages this region is worth a visit!

Next international BIU competitions are:
• September 13th. Indoor World Elite Cup in Barcelona.
• September 30th. European Cup in San Fruitos de Bages, Catalunya. (Not far from were the WBC was hosted.)
• November 10th and 11th. European Indoor Championship in Brno, Czech Republic.
See you soon!

Federico Tarchi