2005 UCI World Championships|
September 1-4, 2005
Story and photos by Michael Friddell
August 29th, 2005
Today began my travels. Carrie and I said our goodbyes at lunch at the airport. It was a bit of a small plane from Nashville to Dulles but the trip was made easier by a fun-loving, friendly group also heading to Italy, only for a tour of the major cities. The flight went smoothly and quickly. I got to Dulles in plenty of time to hike across the airport to my departure terminal where I met up with Cam Kowall. More of the US Team and staff were there but since I didn't know any of them and didn't know which ones to approach, I let it be.
Mike and Carrie at the airport
August 30th, 2005
Although we left D.C. on the evening of the 29th, we didn't get to Zurich until the morning of the 30th. It was a bit of a long flight, about eight hours, but we did get in about ten minutes early thanks to a good tailwind. My first trip over the Atlantic went well. I slept as much as I could and drank plenty of water so jet lag wouldn't be much of an issue. I was able to stay awake during the four-hour bus ride across Switzerland into Italy. I cannot even begin to describe the sights we saw. I started to take a few pictures but then I realized that it would take a thousand pictures to capture every scene. I should offer at least a few highlights: hair-pin turns on a two-lane road on the face of a very steep mountain in a BIG bus towing a trailer; climbing for nearly two hours only to reach the highest point on the road the mountain-top peaks are still further up than a whole West Virginia mountain; rock gardens the size of a national park; roads through small villages where the one lane is so small the bus almost hit the buildings on both sides.
Sunrise on the east coast of England
Cam and Mike meet the team in Zurich
Swiss Alps with Mike's reflection
The last leg of the trip brought us over an Alpine pass high above the tree line (about 6000 ft altitude). Then, back down again, far to the valley floor, only to use a 1km long tunnel to cross the Swiss/Italian border. We popped out of the other side in beautiful Livigno!
What an amazing little village. It's bordered on all sides by enormous, mountain peaks and a very large lake at one end. They have transformed the hillsides all around into cross-country, downhill and four-cross mountain bike racing heaven.
Livigno street view 1
Livigno street view 2
Hotel Alaska (US Team Hotel)
The terrain is not the best for trials but they have done well with what they have available. I've only seen just a few trials sections so far and they were all man-made (e.g. barrels, concrete forms, placed rocks and logs). Tough sections, nonetheless.
I then met up with Ed Gildea and his Dad, Brian Yezierski and his girlfriend, and Ryan Cecil and his whole family. I missed catching Jeremy VanSchoonhoven and his wife today but I'm sure we'll see them tomorrow.
August 31st, 2005
The first practice day. Actually, it was supposed to have been two, three-hour practice sessions but that just didn't work out. I soon found out that I needed to get our team registered for their events. This meant taking their credentials to the Trials registration with their UCI ID's to get them all signed in and issued their starting numbers. If I had known about this step, I would have done it yesterday. Ah, the joy of learning the ropes! Anyway, the first part was trying to find the Trials registration. That took about half an hour and a lot of walking. Next, I was told I had to get the team accredited. After much discussion with the US Managers, I eventually figured out that their credentials were their accreditation. So, more walking and I finally got them registered. We were then able to get a little practice in before lunch.
While I was walking all over and trying to find the registration office, I took the following panoramas of the venue.
After lunch, we went out for some real practice. We were finally able to find some decent rocks to hone the boy's skills. Not quite World's event worthy stuff but good enough to get the guys warmed up.
Ed, Cam and Brian at practice
Brian at practice
Brian practicing sidehop
Cam at practice
Ed at practice
Later, after dinner, most of the US team went out for the Opening Ceremonies. It was a pretty neat deal. They grouped everyone from each country behind a sign showing their country name and marched us all around for everyone to see. There were television crews and other entertainment going on all around. It was kind of like the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics but on a much smaller scale. I was proud to be part of it.
September 1st, 2005
Today was our first day of competition. Ryan rode his 20" Junior Men Semi-Final this morning from 9:00am to 1:00pm and Brian rode his 20" Elite Men Semi-Final this afternoon from 2:00pm to 6:00pm.
The sections and competition were quite a challenge for both. The first five sections were in a rocky creek and on the grassy hillsides surrounding the creek. These were by far the hardest because of the UCI rule of counting pedal and bashguard touches as dabs. The next section was along a stone wall and the rocks at the edge of the river, which included several tricky placement lines and sizable ups from awkward positions. Section seven was a pile of positioned boulders with some massive ups and gaps - cleanable for a rider with big moves but near impossible for anyone else. Lastly was a spool section near a local bike shop that helped to sponsor the World Championships. Ryan had no trouble with the Junior line but the Elite line left Brian stretching his abilities. Really, Benito was the only one that got through the section without a strato dab.
In the end, Ryan was able to struggle through to 8th place, just enough to make it to the final. Only two more points and he wouldn't have qualified. It was a close one. He had a difficult day.
Ryan Cecil USA Section 2
Pictures from Junior Men 20" Semi
Brian also struggled a bit today. Though most of the sections where well within his abilities and his physical fitness was up to the challenges of the day, he, like Ryan, had a difficult time dealing with the stress and pressure of being at the World Championships. This was especially true when Benito came to walk the section while Brian rode it. Actually, Brian was riding that section very well up until the last couple of moves wherein a hasty choice left him in a bad position.
Brian Yezierski USA Section 8
Pictures from Elite Men 20" Semi
September 2nd, 2005
Practice day for the 26" bikes. Cam and Ed made me proud today. They took the initiative to get out and practice on their own in the morning since their semi-final will be tomorrow morning from 9:00am to 1:00pm. That was great of them to do that. They also got to ride with Jon Hendricks (JK from OT.net) who came over from Canada for a European trials riding vacation.
I had the luxury to take a little time for myself today. This morning I attended a presentation about the 2006 World Championships in Rotorua, New Zealand. It looks like it's going to be an awesome event. I'm going to do everything I can to get up enough sponsorship money to send a US Trials Team. I bet the Aussies and Kiwis would enjoy having us down their way. Afterward, I followed some of the Germans around and took some pictures. They have some incredible riders. Some of you might recognize the name, Felix Mucke - your friend and mine from ObservedTrials.net. He is a great rider and a really nice guy. It was awesome to meet him.
Pictures from German practice
The most interesting part of today was watching the female trials competition. There were eight - Karin Moor (the pride of Switzerland), two Spanish riders (the Abant sisters), three French riders, one German and one Russian. Karin utterly dominated (they say she trains with the Swiss Elite men now) but the German girl and one of Spanish sisters were not far behind. I just couldn't believe the lines these girls were riding. It was really impressive. I hope to see a day when an American female gets to this level.
Karin Moor SUI - Sct7
Mireia Abant ESP - Sct6
Mireia Abant ESP - Sct7
If you'll permit me, I'd like to add to this entry a few name drops. I can be as star struck as the next person so I have to mention some of the people I ran into today. The first was Cesar Canas. He came to the presentation for next year's New Zealand event. We had a nice, long talk about the state of trials around the world and the division between the UCI and the BIU. It was quite informative. Next, was Vincent Hermance. I met him at the Koxx booth before he went to train. Last, but far from least, was Hans Rey. He was there to promote his new video and took time out of his busy schedule to watch a bit of the competition. We also had a good talk about the history and future of trials in the US. It was cool to finally meet such an icon of our sport.
September 3rd, 2005
Today was competition day for the 26" bikes. Cam and Ed rode Junior from 9:00am to 1:00pm and Jeremy rode Elite from 2:00pm to 6:00pm.
We were a little worried about what today might be like because it rained quite hard last night. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find everything was pretty much dry by morning with the exception of a little dew. That burned off quickly as the day warmed.
The first five sections were on the grassy hillsides around the creek, similar to the 20" class, but some sections were modified and some completely new sections were used. Section six was at a different area on the rocks around the river from the 20" class. Section seven was a modified version of the rock pile and section eight was the massive log section, both in the expo area.
Both Cam and Ed put in a great effort today. Unfortunately, the grassy hillsides sections just proved to be too much for the guys. Ed actually started off the day well with a three at one of the grassy sections and then a clean at the rock pile on his first loop. Cam made a big comeback on his section loop with a one, a two and a couple of threes. Though neither of them was able to make the final, they definitely showed World-level skills and potential.
Pictures of Cam and Ed from the Junior Men 26 Semi
The afternoon session brought the most competitive class yet, 26" Elite Men. Just have a look at the results and you will see a long list of recognizable names. The most surprising result was that Dani Comas did not qualify for the 26" Finals! Now that is an amazing level of competition! Jeremy rode very well considering the difficulty of the sections and level of competition. His finish of 24th put him in impressive company - Danny Butler and Felix Mucke. Assuming this coming year allows him more practice time than the last (due to illness and life changes), he stands a very good chance of making the finals next year. He definitely showed the level of skill, fitness and confidence necessary to be competitive.
Jeremy VanSchoonhoven USA Section 6
Pictures from Elite Men 26 Semi
September 4th, 2005
Finals day. A busy one, too. Ryan started looking over how they had changed the sections at around 9:00am and started the 20" Junior Men competition at 10:00am. For finals, they have just four sections by two loops but then only an hour and fifteen minute time limit. We were literally running from section to section. These were some sick sections, too.
He did well in the first section, which was the rocks and wall at the river, with only one dab. Section two, the logs and wine barrels, proved much more difficult and resulted in a five trying to get up the steep, slippery log. Section three was the concrete forms. It was a very intimidating section because of the huge heights and wide gaps. He did well there and only took a three. Lastly, section four was the logs-only section used by the other classes. Ryan was riding well with only a one until near the end where he got a bit off balance and had to bail from about six feet up and over a crowd barrier. It was a scary moment but the rider and bike came out fine, though a little shaken. That fall then plagued him into section one of his second loop where he ended up with a nervous five on a move he did cleanly before. However, he came back somewhat to pull down a four on section two, the barrels again. That gave him the confidence to rip through the crazy, high concrete of section three with only two dabs on his second loop. Unfortunately, the high logs of section four bit him once again at a different spot and caused him to end his final with another five.
Ryan Cecil USA Section 3
Pictures from the Junior Men 20 Final
Overall, he rode pretty well and showed that he does still have some serious world-class skills. The intense competition between the Brits, Pole and German pushed Ryan to fifth but that's still one position better than last year. However, the sobering fact is that Ryan will have to ride Elite next year because he turned 18 this year.
I also stuck around to watch the Finals for the 20" Elite Men, 26" Junior Men and 26" Elite Men. 20" Elite was hotly contested between Dani, Benito and Marco Hoesel. Check the pictures to see some of the astounding stuff they pulled. They are truly amazing riders. In the end, Benito proved, without a doubt, that he is the 20" Elite World Champion.
Benito Ros ESP Section 2
Pictures from the Elite Men 20 Finals
The 26" Junior class was yet again a battle between the Brits, Ben Slinger and Ben Savage. But, this time, Wesley Belaey proved that he can hang with the best, too. All of their riding was impressive and only slightly off the Elite level. The amount of talent in Elite is going to be absurd when these guys move up in the next few years.
Pictures from the Junior Men 26 Finals
Finally, came the 26" Elite class. Wow, I cannot even begin to describe the talent here. As you can see from the scores, a single point can make the difference between World Champion and an also-ran. Kenny asserted his dominance once again to take a commanding win with only four points, total! Yeah, I know, it's nuts.
Kenny Belaey BEL Section 3
Pictures from the Elite Men 26 Final
Photos by Michael Friddell
Photos by Tommy Mrohs
Photos on the KOXX website
(Official results from uci.ch)
Elite 20" Men
Elite 26" Men
Junior 20" Men
Junior 26" Men
National Team Event
Video Footage from Tommy Mrohs
If you have video footage from this event, please contact us. Thank you!
© 2005 BikeTrials.com