UCI Trials World Championships - France back with a vengeance in 26"
On Saturday, in the town centre of La Massana in Andorra, the 2015 UCI Trials World Championships finished in the same way as they began four days earlier; to the sound of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
During the last day of competition, the Frenchmen pulled out all the stops. Nicolas Vallée in the Junior 26" category and his friend and training partner Vincent Hermance in the Men Elite 26" were both crowned: after the national team title won on Tuesday, in the end the French team grabbed three of the six rainbow jerseys awarded during these championships.
In the improved weather conditions, the compelling story began with the master stroke of the young and talented Nicolas Vallée. At 17 years of age, and already nicknamed “the cleaner”, he confirmed that he is one of the future stars of world trials. A winner in the semi-finals, the recently crowned Junior 26" European Champion lived up his status as favourite without batting an eyelid. He had made his goal clear beforehand: “to win the World Champion title and above all to enjoy myself.” Which he duly did – and in what style!
Winning was hardly straightforward for Nicolas Vallée. Opposing him was Dominik Oswald in extremely good form. The German, who the day before had been crowned in the Junior 20" category, nearly got a double. With six points accumulated over two circuits, that is the same total as Vallée, he paid a high price for his third place in the semi-finals – the resulting two points handicap probably made him lose the gold medal.
Behind Vallée (6 points) and Oswald (8 points), the third place was won by another Frenchman, Nicolas Fleury (36 points).
The high point of the last day of the World Championships, the Men Elite 26" final, generated some surprises. The audience expected a duel between Carthy/Coustellier. In the end, it was the “veteran” Vincent Hermance, UCI World Champion in 2007 and 2013, who stole the show. Fourth in the semi-finals and therefore with a two-point handicap, the Frenchman started earlier than the first three, as the rules dictate. “Racing without having the direct pressure of my main opponents was an immense advantage”, Hermance declared afterwards. “Over the two circuits, I made two mistakes. After my race, I thought I could be on the podium, but I could see Carthy or Coustellier in front of me. The victory was won over the last obstacle. It was awesome!” His success was all the more to savour, as he is particularly close to Nicolas Vallée, with whom he trains daily. “Being both on the top step of the podium on the same day, after having already won the team’s title together, is marvellous!”
On the scoreboard, Hermance finishes with 23 points, that is two fewer that Carthy (25 points). In third place is Kenny Belaey from Belgium, four times UCI World Champion, with a total of 26 points.