The news that Britain’s Steve Holcombe has ruled himself out of the UK team selection process for the 91st International Six…
The news that Britain’s Steve Holcombe has ruled himself out of the UK team selection process for the 91st International Six Days Enduro team is no surprise, but it is surprising. Along with Jamie McCanney, Holcombe was surely a shoe-in for ISDE 2016 duty and the British team, if not the competition, will miss his presence sorely.
Holcombe has elected to drop out of the process and focus instead on the Enduro 3 World Championship, which he led after the first three rounds of the 2016 EnduroGP series: “A lot has changed for me in recent months and competing in this year’s ISDE just doesn’t fit with either my plans or the plans of the Beta team. It’s fair to say that the year has gone much better than even I hoped it would – I simply owe it to myself, the Beta factory and all my sponsors to do all I can to try and win the Enduro 3 World title.” Says Holcombe.
Which seems fair enough of course, who’d argue against it? Except to say isn’t the ISDE the biggest event in enduro?
There’s a history of riders in off-road sport electing to forego team events, domestic championships or even majoring-off events in favour of staying focused on their ultimate prize. A huge example is high profile team USA riders electing not to race the MX of Nations in 2016 simply because it doesn’t fit with their calendar. It’s a shame on all accounts.
Usually this boils down to the world championship, the ultimate prize taking precedence over all else. A notable example is Dougie Lampkin, whose focus on winning his 12 World Trials titles meant he dropped the British series and Scottish Six Days events for almost a decade (though he’s made up for it since in the SSDT).
The reasons are the bigger prize. Whatever championship we’re talking here the competition gets more specialised and specific as seasons progress. That renders the skills needed to be successful at that series more specific and so riders hone their fitness, riding talents, travel arrangements and diaries accordingly.
Not everyone’s at it, it depends on the differences between the relative competitions. Holcombe is still competing in the British Enduro Championship, although the BEC is a bizarre series with a daft calendar which suits the international riders. Motocross has its multi-tasking, multi-championship riders too: serial top ten contenders at world level, Shaun Simpson and Tommy Searle are also currently the biggest names competing in the 2016 MXGB championship. Jeffrey Herlings (among others) also clocks up the points in his native Dutch domestic series’ for example. James Dabill is also competing in the British and World Trials championships.
What’s the conclusion? That it is a bit of a shame a rider like Steve Holcombe, one of the world’s best enduro riders in 2016, can’t compete for Britain in the ISDE in Navarra, Spain this year. It’s understandable (even more so if you take account of how little the UK’s governing body puts into the event by comparison to other nations) but, still, Britain won’t have it’s strongest possible team and that is a shame.