2021 ISDE Day 1 Notebook
Enduro21 daily notebook number one direct from the paddock of the International Six Days Enduro in Rivanazzano Terme, Italy where local riders played their cards and the long wait to be here was worth it with some awesome enduro.
It seemed like a lie-in to begin the first day’s action at the 2021 ISDE at a lazy 08:00 – it wasn’t even dark when we arrived at the paddock (note: it often is).
A spectacular sunrise was topped off with some rousing music including a loud dose of Pavarotti singing Nessum Dorma to complete the very Italian build-up to the start.
It was hard not to feel the excitement as the first riders pushed their bikes up the ramp, waited for their minute to tick up and started their engines.
Start as you mean to go on
Way back in 2019 at the last International Six Days Enduro in Portugal (it feels like a lifetime ago), Enduro21 signed off coverage of the event with a notebook highlighting two stand-out riders. One of them, Daniel Sanders, has since switched to Rally and his Australian team sadly didn’t make it to Italy this year due to travel restrictions.
The other rider we focused on all those years ago was Josep Garcia and it seems the Spaniard is in no mood to lower the heat this year. The record will show the fastest rider on the last enduro day of the 94th ISDE was also the fastest guy on the first day of the 95th ISDE.
Garcia’s 20-second margin out front is not as simple as it might appear though. Andrea Verona in particular was Garcia’s equal for the most part and the pair were “killing it” according to Taylor Robert. “It was a big fight all day”, explained Verona of his battle with Josep.
It is the team performance which matters most but Garcia and Verona are at the top of their game in world enduro right now and the fight to claim that badge of honour for overall day wins is a strong driving force.
It could have been a fairy-tale start for the Italy if a simple tip-off in the final test hadn’t cost Andrea Verona over 30 seconds. “I was in front by more or less two seconds but in the last test I crashed.
“It was not a big one but some dirt got in my brake lever and it stayed pulled so I had to stop and make the lever work, get the mud out. Then it started raining halfway through the test and it was still not working properly and I crashed again.”
“To finish in a good position as a team is the most important thing and I think we did a god job today.” Says Josep.“On my side, I started not so bad but I did not see so good in the dust and I could not see the lines always. The terrain is hard-packed and really dusty but it is the same for everybody.
“Today was great to win the overall but I hope to start tomorrow like the last test today where I found a good setting with the bike. All of the day I also missed something with the bike also, it was difficult to manage.”
Team Italy squad goals
Did Italy pick the wrong riders for the World Trophy team? The results are upside down, no? Well, not quite but to find the two fastest Junior Trophy riders overall are also placed second and sixth is unusual to put it mildly.
Those two riders are Matteo Pavoni and Lorenzo Macoritto, two TM Racing EnduroGP riders who’ve been running away with the Junior World Championship all season. Not surprisingly the two youngsters have brought their A-game to the ISDE on home soil.
Pavoni’s start time on day one was way down in 115th place (riders begin the week in class order then switch to scratch order from day two onwards) so it took a while for the news to come through after each test but he won the first test outright and went on to claim second overall – helping his team take the Junior Trophy lead.
“I started well with the overall win in the first test,” says Matteo, “it’s amazing for me to get second overall for a day at the ISDE. But I had a good feeling with the bike today and for the rest of the week it will be more of the same I hope!”
If at least two Italian Juniors were setting the place on fire, it wasn’t like the senior World Trophy riders were slacking by the way. Verona was P3 despite his muddy mistake and with Matteo Cavallo fourth and Thomas Oldrati ninth, the top 10 looked very Tricolore-coloured.
Collectively they finished day one with a lead just shy of one minute over Spain with Team USA narrowly third.
See our separate story for the day 1 results: 2021 ISDE: Day 1 results – Italy take the lead as Josep Garcia wins overall
“We didn’t set the world on fire but it’s only the first day”
Wise words from the former overall winner and two-time World Trophy winning team member Taylor Robert but we have to admit we raised eyebrows at some of the early results as the riders got on with their morning’s work.
Team USA riders were down the order and the truth is you get used to seeing those guys up top of the timing sheets.
“I was feeling pretty good in the first test but crashed and beat my arm up a bit and it took me a little bit to get the flow going again.” Taylor explained. “But Josep and Andrea are killing it so that’s not an excuse.
“I felt good but test two and five today were a bit much for a 450 but I still really enjoyed them and the faster ones also, they did a good job. They’re some of the longest tests I’ve ever ridden and we’re not even at the longest test yet!
What about the team performance from the defending World Trophy champions? “We didn’t necessarily set the world on fire but it’s only the first day and everyone’s healthy which is the important thing at this point.”
One thing you expect most from the ISDE is a proper ride on a bike and boy did riders get it today. The tests (many of which are the same on days two and three) head in the same direction through some typical Italian valleys, through vineyards and along dry, rocky riverbeds.
The course travels up the wide river for long stretches and at times switches right off the valley floor, following smaller rivers, under old bridges through the heart of picturesque towns and villages. If it wasn’t for the race it would be a nice off-road tour of the region...
But this is very much a race and the best thing about today’s tests seems to be their length, they look like a real blast and the riders are saying as much. Catching five with them as they exited parc ferme in this afternoon’s blazing sunshine brought a similar response to the question: how are you enjoying the tests? “They are a lot of fun” says runaway Women’s World Trophy leader, Brandy Richards, echoing the thoughts of many.
We can’t not mention the dust
Dust is a common feature at the ISDE. 630-plus riders here in Italy are hitting six tests per day, 10 different tests in total across the five days (day six is the motocross test). It’s a recipe for kicking up the dirt anyway but the ISDE arrived in Italy following a long, dry spell in the this part of Europe which means the relatively poor soil is baked hard.
Needless to say the dust was hanging in the trees, blowing across the open grass tests and riders were changing filters at most service points we saw. It is what it is though, a fact of ISDE life (unless it rains).
Here’s a random fact. Service crews take spare parts to the service area, new foam air filters being an obvious example. It’s a quick change and helps engine life in this tough event.
But Josep Garcia’s team also take a spare exhaust to each service point – not just one, one for each. A whole stack of them in case he crashes a lot. We think he stayed upright and didn’t need them today…
Photo Credit: Enduro21 | Andrea Belluschi