by Steve Berkner
The 31-rider U.S. ISDE team made it into impound late Friday evening without any problems. Spirits were high after finishing up a week of race preparations for the 88th International Six Days Enduro that is being held in Olbia, Italy.
U.S. Team Manager Antti Kallonen has high praise for the overall team effort.
“Sometime it can be a long week if things don’t go well, but this week everything came together,” he says. “We have a couple of riders that are waiting for some parts to make it through customs, but they’ve made arraignments to at least impound their bikes and swap out the parts when they get here.”Kallonen says the riders have been using their time well.
“The team has been working hard all week with getting to know each other, setting their bikes up and walking tests. Now that the bikes are in impound we can concentrate on walking a few more test and getting rested up and ready for the start on Monday,” he adds. “To our riders, Six Days is still a different kind of race where we have to quickly adjust to the European style enduro format and rules to be competitive. This week we’ve done our best to be ready on the first day. Some of our Trophy riders have been walking as much as 18 miles [of tests] a day just to be better prepared.”
The riders have gotten a good feel for the conditions on the Italian course, Kallonen says.
“The soil here is loose on top with a harder layer underneath,” he says. “It’s going to be very dusty and all of the riders are going to have to take the time to get to know how to ride this type of soil. This is going to be true for everyone where I don’t think the team leading at the end of day one is absolutely going to be the one that is leading at the end of day six.”
U.S. ISDE Team Captain Kurt Caselli and 10-time ISDE rider says that he’s confident in the team’s chances.
“Where we are right now is really good,” he says. “All the bikes are in, they all past sound and now we can concentrate on riding. It was the smoothest week leading up to impound I’ve ever experienced. Now we can concentrate of walking a few more tests and spot walking those sections that we don’t feel comfortable with. The whole team has been working hard all week, even the newer guys like Zach Osborne, Kailub Russell and Ryan Sipes. They’re all working hard on trying to learn the routine.”Caselli says the team atmosphere is evident.
“It’s so nice to see where we are as a team and country today,” he says. “We’ve come a long way over the years and regardless of how we finish we’ve got a real organized effort today, and that’s what it takes to be competitive.”