ISDE 2022: Day 5 Notebook – say no to slow, homework and why no 125s?
Enduro21’s daily notebook live from the International Six Days of Enduro paddock in Le Puy en Velay, France catches up with riders on the penultimate day to talk about why backing off is worse, where all the 125s are and what’s up with Team USA…
Just one more day and Team Great Britain will make a bit of history. Nationally they are the most successful team in the ISDE record books but the bare fact remains they haven’t won it since 1953. Christ, that really is another lifetime ago.
By being the most consistent four rider team this week in France, having two riders at the top of the timesheets and two more not far behind, the age-old recipe for success at this team game of enduro has dished up a reward for GB’s men.
There is a final cross test to get through tomorrow of course and it is no formality. Beginning with club riders and ending with the fast guys, Saturday will see a small trac next to the paddock battered for hours until the final scores are settled.
Get through this without mishap keeping out of trouble and you don’t lose hardly any time. It’s not a formality no, but it is easier tomorrow than it was this morning…
Keep a lid on it but don’t over think it
The more we think about it, the less appealing being a team manager is. Great Britain’s boss Daryll Bolter looked about as nervous as anyone this morning. A four-minute lead was a nice cushion for his Trophy team to have but a technical last enduro day (and the small matter of history being made) looked heavy on his shoulders.
“We just need to keep on keeping on but not take the risks.” Said Bolter nervously at the second test. “They know what they’re doing but we don’t need to lose too much time being cautious. A few seconds here, a few there is fine. But we don’t need to start losing 30 or 40 seconds to Spain in a test or that gap will quickly come down.”
Take it easy? “It was my first crash of the week”
When Nathan Watson hit a tree in ST4, twisting his bars and arriving heart-stoppingly late back at the test finish, it was the moment everyone in Team GB had been crossing their fingers not to happen.
“It was just a stupid mistake really,” Nathan explained, “just riding a bit too cautious and thankfully nothing bad happened it didn’t cost us too much time.”
Keeping a lid on things is not easy according to Steve Holcombe either, in fact it can be worse. “In a way I was almost too cautious.” Holcombe explains. “In the first three tests it was one of those times when you’re riding and doing everything wrong, but you don’t know why you’re doing it. I was messing up corners and focusing too much on the other guy’s lines I think.
“I went into the fourth test first because I knew it a little bit after we’d walked it again last night. I felt really good in that one, I was sliding everywhere and having a bit of fun and that was a good test and I carried it on to finish fourth on the day.
How do you ride that last day mentally though? “I think we all took a big breath of air and realised the position we are in and that it was ours to lose.
“For me personally I’m not overly happy with my week but at the end of the day to be beaten by Nathan, Garcia and Verona is not too bad. After the season I’ve had I’m pretty pumped all round but I’ll be even more pumped tomorrow if it all pays off.”
Bonjour Monsieur Blanjoue
“It was an amazing day for sure,” says Hugo Blanjoue who has steadily ticked off better results by the day to finally post his best-ever scratch result at an ISDE, third place overall. “The last day is maybe more difficult to stay on the bike, stay focused and the day was long but finally it was perfect today. I am improving with each day so maybe I have to make a race with 15 days!
“For sure I would prefer to have a better result for the team but fourth is not so bad and for myself it has been a great week racing in front of the French crowds this week has been amazing.”
Did you do your homework Team USA?
Team USA’s World Trophy team is in fifth place and 17 minutes down on the leaders. This is not normal and represent a further slip even from last year when they finished third overall. It feels like USA have constant contenders for years but these last two years haven’t produced the good for what remains the largest and most expensive part of the ISDE paddock.
Enduro21 caught up with Josh Toth, a veteran of six ISDEs now and a rider with tonne of experience. We wanted to know, what’s going on this week with Team USA?
“I think both for myself and for the team, most of us are just struggling to come to terms with the tests.” Says the KTM rider. “Bike set-up is one thing also, the bikes are quieter and mapped a little different over here and that makes a difference…no excuses but it is a difference to come to terms with.”
A feature this week has been the daily mileage and the length of tests all of which are ridden once (with one exception). That’s a lot of remembering to be done but the fact is a lot of riders seem to have only walked the tests once and by the end of the week the memory is wearing thin.
Which explains a lot and it seems clear now who has done their homework in walking and remembering the tests – check the results sheets to answer that conundrum but trust us, the fast guys are the ones who were out there last night checking again what goes where.
“I only got to walk the tests one time and that makes it pretty difficult today for example because I haven’t seen the tests in 10 days.” Says Toth. “So trying to come over the hills and so on when you don’t know what’s on the other side is frustrating.
“I’ve been to plenty of Six Days so I should know it but our Sprint races back home are just two tests and we e-bike them, so coming here and walking tests once a week or more ago is hard. It’s not an excuse, I need to be better at memorising tests and then I can ride like I know how.
“Everything comes at you quick when you don’t know what to expect. Some tests I had a good idea but in others I was reacting all the time. When there’s a line cut in it helps but when it’s a blind hill and you can’t remember what’s on the other side, it’s tough.
“I think it was one of the toughest Six Days I’ve done and I enjoyed it, the transfers have been great.”
125s are rare these days…
“It used to be a 125 was a good bike to have back in my day, it’s swings and roundabouts but you used to be able to make up some time because the tests were more technical and the light bike was a bonus.” So says Paul Edmondson.
His son, Harry not only has some tough acts to follow in his own family but has also made his own life harder time this week by sticking with his world championship race bike, a Fantic XE 125.
“It’s been hard work for different reasons,” Harry, explains “because the tests are so fast compared to what I’m used to, it is definitely hard work on the 125. In EnduroGP they are tighter and more technical, obviously here they’ve got to cater for a wider range of abilities, and that means they are faster.”
The current EnduroGP Youth class world championship points leader is at his first ISDE as well, so how is it panning out? “It’s been an eye-opener that’s for sure,” says Harry. “I’ve had to set my alarm for ten past five every morning! The long days have been brutal.
“I’ve really enjoyed it actually. Remembering 13 tests which we walked a week or more ago is hard and it feels like by now you’re riding blind.”
And what about the fact he could become a world champion next month, does that make him hold back any? “Yeah, I definitely have that in mind. I didn’t want to start taking risks or pushing above my limit so I just kept it there and kept chipping away.”
Photo Credit: Future7Media | Andrea Belluschi + Nicki Martinez