In May, 2021, Laia Sanz announced that she was returning to the FIM Women’s Trial World Championship this season. Sanz has been absent from the trials competition since 2013 when she secured her 13th Women's World Trial crown. The Spanish rider has focused on enduro riding for the past 8 years, securing five Women's Enduro World Championships and a ninth-place finish in the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Despite her long trials hiatus, Sanz hasn’t lost her form. At the 2021 Women’s Trial World Championship’s GP of Italy opening round, the Barcelona native returned to the top step of the podium with a narrow victory over Emma Bristow. Aboard the TXT GP 300, the GASGAS rider also achieved a second-place finish on the second day of the grand prix weekend, leaving her tied atop the Women’s Trial World Championship standings after one round.
“It’s been so nice to be back in the trial paddock, and to win on the first day was incredible – it felt so, so good to get that result,” proclaimed Sanz. “It wasn’t easy for me with the non-stop rules, but things worked out really well.”
Though Sanz focused on enduro since 2013, her roots are firmly planted in the trials community. Along with her 13 Women’s World Trial titles, she’s also racked up 10 Women's Trial European crowns, six Women's Trial des Nations championships, and Women's Trial Spanish titles. Her absence didn’t dampen her desire to return to the trials paddock.
“It’s something I would have liked to have done last year, and we had everything ready, but one week before the first TrialGP round I contracted Lyme disease, which forced me off the bike for a while,” noted Sanz. “I’ve wanted to come back to trial for a long time now. I have always loved trial and to have the possibility to return with GASGAS it’s just perfect.”
Sanz faced a different trial when she contracted Lyme disease in 2020. While the recovery delayed her trials return, it couldn’t stop her from finishing 17th overall in the 2021 Dakar Rally. Back at full strength, Sanz is getting her trials legs back, but it doesn’t come without its struggles.
“I found day two hard. I was already struggling physically a little at the end of the first day, and today, with the heat, I wasn’t at 100%,” added Sanz. “But there are many positives from this weekend, not least the day one victory.”
The next round of the 2021 FIM Women’s Trial World Championship will take place in France on July 4, 2021. With three grand prix left on the calendar, we’ll see if Sanz can add 14 World Trials trophy to her cluttered case in 2021.