La polémique de Canberra

The Canberra Debate

Thursday 10 September 2009
by Ben Swales
popularity : 6%

JPEG - 35.9 kb The World Championships in Canberra, which captivated the trials world all last weekend, saw a final, on man made sections (which now seems to be the UCI norm), of a rarely equalled intensity. The magnificent sections were made from rocks, logs, pallettes etc. and the World Champion defended his title right up to the final section and returned home in the champion’s jersey.

JPEG - 10.9 kb However, some people have been talking about "scandal" (we prefer the term "debate"). The event organisers had constructed sections in keeping with the event, but the UCI had not sent any professional obserevers, as they had done with other large international competitions. The observers in Canberra did not have the experience of European observers and, as soon as the competition was over, several Elite riders contacted us about what they considered to be serious failings. There was little difference between the World Champion and second place this season, a single clean was all that separated them Gilles Coustellier and Kenny Belaey. Several spectators (including some Elite riders who had not qualified) at this, the most important event of the year, have questioned Gilles’ victory. Now, we’re not here to rerun the competition, to contest the jersey of a champion of whom we are all big fans, nor to cast doubt on the federation that has brought trials to the highest level over the last few years and that we have a lot of respect for, but we do feel that those who witnessed the event should be given their say.

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Max Shröm (Trial Team Hoffmann) contacted us the day after the competition to tell us about an apparent fault that Gilles Coustellier had made, but which was not sanctioned by the observer or by the organisers… Thomas Mhros tells us what he saw:

The 26 Final was amazing. The Warm Up was quiet huge and the 3 Top Riders Kenny Belaey, Gilles Coustellier and Vincent Hermance competed very hard. The sections were pretty hard and the riders must go to there limits. At the End the best 3 Riders had half the Points compare to the 4. rider. After 12 Sektions Kenny and Gilles got the same points. Gilles got the victory because of more cleans. Okay, but there was a small discussion. Gilles had problems by putting a dab in the concrete section, for a short time he got both feet at one side of the bike. The jugde didn t see it, but Kenny. Like in Soccer the video proof doesen t count, it just matters what the judges see in the moment when it happens. Judges are also just people and they don t can see everything everytime. It s hard because this decision tells who is worldchampion. But that s sports.

(Edited the 15/09/2009)

Serge Froissart, Fastt coach, who followed the riders round, left a significant comment on his website:

It was a great event, on the other side of the world, and the Australian people were very welcoming (a big thanks to all the local riders!). There was just one downer: there were too many mistakes made that had an influence on results that made a lot of difference to the competition and to the riders.

Kenny Belaey, who is currently in New Zealand, where the World Cup final will take place in a few days, has still not got over the defeat, the fault for which, according to him, lies with the UCI, who entrusted the organisation of the competition to amateurs. He is threatening, purely and simply, to retire from his professional competition career next year…

hello all, here I am, in New Zealand, enjoying this beautiful country. Really amazing landscape but we have to drive 1 hour for a good spot to train though at Mount Manganui (trained with Spanish team today), awesome place. It’s good I travelled to such a nice place because it’s the best anger management therapy you can imagine, lol. WHY? Because I am very disappointed in the UCI in general because their decision of not hiring official, experienced European judges is now becoming my worst nightmare. It might all sound cocky but I am just telling the truth and the little people who witnessed know I am not bull*****

Gilles took off in the first section, right in front of me, because of my strategy by beating him in the semi final so it was all in my favor, strong as he always is, he tried to ride that impossible concrete tube which I knew from the start was impossible... anyway; forced by gravity he does like everybody and dabs, not his favorite move I reckon. All of a sudden, while he is dabbing, I see my biggest chance to win: while he is in the air turning his bike around the arrow, he looses balance and both feet were for a little while at the right side of the frame, everybody standing around including me and the power-button-on cameras saw it BUT the checker never saw it he say so he got only 1 in stead of 5. Frustrated and stressed out as I was because of this I made 7 points in the first 3 sections, not really focussed on my own race, but I still manage to end up same points with Gilles after the first lap. The second lap I got really ’in the zone’ and overcame section after section like if I was flying, ready to get the title BUT than, I got very disappointed AGAIN when I arrived at the last section number 6, 2nd lap, still having same points as Gilles. Because mr Fish had changed section 6 and had skipped the hardest part of it, the part where Gilles had a 5 the first lap and where I had a 2; the place where I could make the difference because Gilles might have tried and make points because he could have thought I would clean it to win OR he might have dabbed which would mean I had to try and clean it which was absolutely possible but I will never know, all I know is that I rode a damn good race, that I should have won my 9th title of WC in 2009, that it could have been my 4th title of elite WC 26", that it would make my position of record holder in ’elite titles’ stronger and the most important; it would mean a better financial income, more exposure for sponsors, better PR campaign but now I am just 2nd, not bad you might think, but this is not why I am doing it for people. I am not living like a monk, train hard every single day and invest tons of money in training and traveling... to be 2nd, I am going for the win!! And if I have to deal with amateurs to decide rather I can or not I should maybe consider of only focussing on projects and shows for my sponsors which is for myself and I should also maybe stop promoting UCI and trials as a professional sport because it isn’t always like that

Kenny protests against the observer’s decision… a scene that we have seen all to often in the past. But perhaps this time he was not in the wrong…

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Kenny, first place in the semi-final, chose to go second in the final so that he could adjust his ride according to that of his main opponent…

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The Belgian Champion had to content himself with a bitter second place…

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