With five straight FIM TrialGP Women world titles, Britain’s Emma Bristow is far and away the leading female trials rider of her generation – although you’d be hard-pushed to get her to admit it. Modest, down-to-earth and at times even excessively self-critical, she would rather let her riding do the talking and since 2014 she’s got her message across in an unequivocal manner.
The stats are astounding. Beaten just three times in world solo championship competition since the start of the 2014 campaign, she’s also helped her country to six Trial des Nations victories and has dominated the British championship for the last five years. Still, don’t expect any smacktalk from the 28-year-old Sherco star.
Her 19 wins from 22 starts over the last five years has certainly left her rivals in no doubt as to who’s #1. The oldest rider in the class, if anything she’s becoming more dominant with her 22-point championship advantage over second-placed Berta Abellan from Spain last year her biggest margin of victory to date.
Bristow won’t begin the defence of her world title until TrialGP Japan in early June. Of course, she’s making no predictions although everyone knows she’ll start as an odds-on favourite to make it six on the trot.
“I would never go to round one and say ‘I’m going to beat you all’ but all I can say is I’m going to work as hard as I have in the past and have good preparation. I like to ride well, I like to work hard and I like to prove that I am the best but you’ve got to do it every year and I’ll put in as much work as I can to do that.
“You could say that anyone who wins is scared of losing. The drive is that I don’t want to lose so I train as hard as I can and do the things that I know work for me and because of that I’m on top of my game.”
While Bristow is now a role model to a whole new wave of female trials riders, even role models have role models and hers is Laia Sanz. The sensational Spaniard won 13 TrialGP Women world titles before repeating this success in world championship enduros and the Dakar Rally where she is part of the Red Bull KTM Factory team.
“I first went to the European championship when I think I was 14 or 15. I saw Laia ride there and saw how good she was and that was a massive inspiration to me. To be able to challenge her was always my dream so I went away and really tried to learn new techniques and to improve. I think also the fact she was riding with the boys at the top level was a massive inspiration.
“She’s tall, she’s strong – when I stand next to her I look really small – and I just loved the way she was challenging the boys. The fact that she was competing with them was just so cool.”