Trials

Australia Prepped For 2023 Trial des Nations In France

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Lillie Yiatrou in Trial2 world championship action

Australia’s long-standing association with the Trial des Nations (TdN) will continue in 2023 with full-strength men’s and women’s teams to compete in the annual showpiece, which will be held in France from September 8-10.

Australia will take an unchanged line-up into the 18-country International Trophy men’s division, with reigning Aussie champion Kyle Middleton to be joined by Connor Hogan and South Australian Chris Bayles – the trio now seasoned TdN campaigners.

In the women’s division, Lillie Yiatrou returns for her second TdN appearance and the first since 2019, where she will join forces with incumbent Kaitlyn Cummins who first made her Aussie debut in 2015.

Middleton, Hogan and Bayles already share a special TdN bond after winning the 2017 International Trophy – which was Australia’s first victory in the category after six previous podium finishes.

And it’s that unity and an acute understanding of each other’s strengths that Newcastle-based Middelton believes helps to galvanise the Aussie team.

“Over the past five TdNs we’ve learnt so much together,” said Middleton, the multiple Aussie champion. “There are lots of intricacies and considerations in how we prepare and compete. For example, I’m usually the first rider out as managing time is one of my strengths, followed by Chris who is the glue that holds the team together, and then Connor who is an excellent rider under pressure.

“I just love everything about the TdN – it’s an event I always look forward to with immense pride as it has a higher purpose: representing your country and riding alongside great mates who are normally your opposition.”

Connor Hogan competing at the 2023 Scottish Six Day Trial

The TdN will be held in a ski resort in Auron, about 90km from Nice, and Middleton expects the terrain to be quite hard, sharp and slippery.

“It will be quite technical, but the key to getting the job done at the TdN is damage limitation on sections that may not be quite in your absolute comfort zone, and then maximising opportunities in other sections. It’s always a great challenge, as it should be in such an iconic event.”

At the TdN, the best two scores in each section count towards the team total – so a pressure cooker for the Aussie women in particular with only two participants and minimal ‘wriggle’ room.

Australia’s main opposition in the International Trophy will come from defending champion the Czech Republic, as well as Germany, Austria, Sweden and the United States. A total of 18 teams will compete in the International Trophy, where Australia finished fifth in 2022.

In the Women’s, Australia is grouped with all the powerhouse trials nations, including Spain, Italy and Great Britain.

The Aussie men will collect their TdN machinery in Europe early next week before heading to a training camp in Andorra and then onto the final round of the FIM Trial World Championship (for both men and women) in France from September 1-3.

At the shakedown, Middleton, Hogan and Bayles will compete in the Trial2 class – while for Yiatrou and Cummins it’s the culmination of a 2023 European campaign in the Trial2 Women class.

Hogan has also been dabbling in international competition in 2023, including a solid rookie result in the famed Scottish Six Day Trial and Trial2 appearances.

Yiatrou is sixth in the Trial2 Women standings after riding both the Andorran and Italian rounds, while Cummins is 13th overall after her only outing in Italy.

Long-time Australian TdN team manager Philip Whittle couldn’t be happier with how it’s all come together.

“The preparation has been fantastic, and we’ll head in to the TdN on the back of the three-day camp and then the shakedown in France in the first weekend of September.

“Having a settled line-up really helps the Australian team in lots of ways, and I’m especially happy to see Lillie back in the fold. She had some time off but has come back to the sport with more passion and is a crafty campaigner.

“The other week she was training with Kaitlyn in Andorra when Toni Bou turned up to do some riding – it doesn’t get any bigger than that!

“As always, we’ll be giving it out best shot and I’m looking forward to getting things underway.”

The Australian team will also include three minders – Jarad Boniface, Jono Chellas and Michael Zutelija – who are all skilled trials practitioners and will be available to offer wise ‘in-section’ and general counsel.

Australia first competed in the TdN 1990, six years after it was inaugurated, and has returned every year since except 2021. During that time, Australia has had 26 top 10 finishes and seven podiums – including the aforementioned victory in 2017.

The first Australian women’s team competed in 2001, the year after the dedicated class was established.

The 2022 Australian TdN team

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