World superpower: “We want twelve out of fifteen medals”

It’s hard to imagine Spain’s overwhelming dominance in the world bike trials. “We want twelve of the fifteen medals that are at stake,” affirmed the national coach without hesitation Manuel Mateo, the discipline’s founder, from Glasgow, home of a number of World Cups covering virtually all modalities of cycling. A unique showcase. “We were the main favourites, getting at least two metal medals on each podium,” he explains to AS. A risky bet, but with arguments. At the past World Trials Championships, without further ado, the podium of the 20-inch men, the highest category, was exclusively occupied by Spanish riders: Eloi Palau, Borja Conejos and Alejandro Montalvo.

“We are the country that encouraged court cases. We are the inventors, it’s cultural.”

Manuel Mateo on the reasons for dominance

“It would be doable with a deputy, but I think it’s complicated. I would say nine medals although it is true that Spain is very high and great work is being done from the base,” says the more conservative Conejos a day before his flight to Scotland. The team test takes place on Wednesday. The individual competitions for both men and women take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Spain participates with 17 representatives. Despite everything, Borja, world champion of 2021, will get on the plane full of nervousness. “It’s inevitable. Winning is always difficult. “You work all year round on a day when anything can happen,” he explains.

The process that explains part of the success was born in Spain. Pedro Pi, the first national motorcycle trials champion and founder of Monty bikeshe thought about transferring the discipline to cycling. In 1980 he designed the first dedicated bike for it and since then the Spanish medalist hasn’t stopped adding more. “We are the country that encouraged court cases. We were the inventors and from then on a current emerged in which there were many competitions, schools… It’s a deeply rooted cultural problem. Hence the large area with its good and bad parts. Such an exaggerated supremacy also means that the sport is doing badly internationally,” reflects Mateo.

Borja Conejos, during the 2022 World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Borja Conejos, during the 2022 World Cup in Abu Dhabi.intensive care unit

The process from the inside out

Without going into detail, 70% of the test pilots are in Spain, according to the national team itself. Among them a Conejos who started at the age of seven (he is now 24). After seeing several boys practicing on a beach in Suances (Cantabria), where he spends the summer (he’s from Madrid), he fell in love. Now, while studying sports management, he dedicates more than 20 hours a week to this topic. In addition to training on the respective bike, he also trains in the gym and on the road with sets. In competition, you have to overcome obstacles with the fewest possible number of kicks. “The technique is important, the physical, with a lot of explosiveness, and the mind that makes the difference. In balance, I try to think as little as possible,” he says. Spain dominates all three facets.

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