Calvin Vlaanderen is really taking big steps forward at the moment, just as that moto win at the Grand Prix of Sweden shows. Vlaanderen ended second overall, a result that he has become familiar with thus far this year, and really proved that he may be the second-best rider in the MX2 division at the moment. That is discussed in the exclusive MX Vice interview below, as well as what the hell is going on with the Dutch team for the Motocross of Nations.
MX Vice: A fourth and a first on the day. The moto win was not a surprise at all. Imola, like we said, you were riding good and making passes when other people could not. In moto two you made it happen. It was your first moto win since Loket last year, so good things! You didn’t get the overall though and [Tom] Vialle did with a 2-2, which must sting a tiny bit.
Calvin Vlaanderen: Yeah, sure. I’m really happy to get that moto win. It’s been a while. Like you said, Loket last year was my last one. [This was] the third one in my career. I think I’m going to write it down, for sure. It’s something special to get these wins. You don’t come by them every day. It’s been coming for a while, I think. I’ve been feeling good the last… Since I’ve been back from injury, actually. I’ve had, I think, a top five at every single round, so that’s cool. Still building and still getting better.
I feel like I’m still not one hundred percent. I can still improve. Yesterday I felt a lot better on the track than today. I just rode really easy and could find places to catch up really quickly. Today I knew I had that feeling yesterday, so I was trying to push it today in the first race and I just pushed a little bit too hard. I was just fighting the track, fighting the bike a bit and making too many mistakes. I didn’t have such a good feeling in that first moto, but still came back to Henry [Jacobi].
I wanted to pass him, but just didn’t have it in me. The track was so tough to pass on this weekend. In the second race it was a little bit better. I was a little bit lucky, to be honest, with Adam [Sterry] crashing and Tom [Vialle] crashing. If I didn’t put pressure on them, then they wouldn’t have made the mistake. I just kept pushing. I knew that in my head I needed to put pressure on them and try to catch up, which I was doing slowly. I was a little bit faster. To get that moto win and go second overall is a pretty good weekend.
Was it quite a relaxing win, that second one? It has been over a year now so, although you have done it before, I imagine your mind was going a little bit. I guess you had no idea where [Jorge] Prado was too? I guess for all of you guys that’s the question mark, because he could be coming.
Sure. To be honest, [Jorge] Prado was behind me. Even if he was right behind me, I knew it would be tough to pass. I’m kind of similar speed to him this weekend. Maybe he was a little bit faster, but I think it was tough to pass on this track. I wasn’t really looking where he was. I was looking at Vialle and Sterry in front of me. I think Vialle knew he had the overall win if I passed him.
I also had that in the back of my head that I needed to put pressure on him and he would maybe let me past, but he was right behind me as soon as I got by. I just saw I was putting a little bit further gap, then in the last two laps I just took it easy. It was actually quite a cool feeling to cross the finish line again in first.
Tricky question, but that win at Loket last year was phenomenal and you were clearly riding well. Are you riding better than ever right now though? You are not like on a consistent streak of podiums but, like I said before, at Imola you were making passes when no one else was. You are only just coming back from injury. I guess an argument could be made that this is the best you have ever ridden.
I don’t think this is the best I have ever been. Loket last year, definitely that race win was maybe the best I have ever ridden. I haven’t had that feeling in a while. I had that a bit yesterday, to be honest, that feeling. Even if I got past Henry, I felt like I could push to Prado out front. That was a nice feeling to have that. I don’t think that I’m peaking at all. I think I still have a lot in me. The starts this year have helped a bit.
We have improved with the bike. That is also resulting in more consistent results. I think every single MXGP I have raced this year I’ve been top five and close to the podium, which is good for me. In the past I wasn’t very consistent. I’ve always been fast, but not consistent. This year it’s been good to get some consistent rides in. It feels good. I know that I’m one of the fastest out there and confidence-wise that’s quite a cool thing.
Two hot topics. Last week there was a rumour going around that HSF are backing you to go to Standing Construct. Every single part of that rumour is wrong, basically. Not one single part of it is true, right?
Yeah, true. Nothing I can say about that. Actually, it’s quite funny to hear all the rumours and things like that. I know the guy from HSF, and he likes to play a little bit. Someone asked him, just one person asked him, “Are you going to sponsor x team.” I don’t know who it was, but he said, “You never know.” His words were, “You never know.”
Then the next person is like, “He is going to go sponsor them.” Then the word was around the paddock. It was on all the sites and things like that. I obviously know what’s going on. It’s not going to happen. Unfortunately, HSF I think will stop. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but I think they will stop. That’s a pity.
I just said the same thing to Sterry. You have just won a moto and you would think that now your phone is going to ring. I kind of think we are at the point now where results don’t even matter for you, Max [Anstie] or Sterry. I don’t know why, because they should do, but it feels like you could blitz the last four motos now and that wouldn’t make a difference to your situation.
That’s true. I think that’s also why I did well today, because I had that in the back of my head. Like, I don’t even need results anymore. I just need to ride. To be honest, I didn’t care where I finished. If I was tenth twice or fifteenth twice, I didn’t care. I was just going to ride the bike and end off strong.
Obviously, I want to win every time I get on the bike. That is what I did today. It’s a difficult situation at the moment. Too many riders for little teams. I think everyone’s looking for a ride and it’s tough. I think the race win helped maybe a little bit but, on the other hand, all the spots are full, so it didn’t really help.
Now everyone knows what we were talking about with the ‘Nations last weekend. The team has been picked, kind of. You are one of two MX2 riders. First of all, when they approached you with the idea were you very confused?
A little bit, because I think now it’s more difficult for them to make a decision. Everyone is looking at the team, Team Netherlands, and thinking, “Who are they going to pick?” It’s just building up and building up. I think for the KMNV and the Dutch Federation it’s going to be a difficult one. Either way they go there is going to be people like, “No, you should have done the other one.”
At the ‘Nations too, if one rides well and one rides bad then the other one is going to be like, “You should have taken that one.” Things like that. It’s cool to be in the team with them. We have some training days we are going to do, and I think Roan [Van De Moosdijk] is also racing in Turkey and China. They will look at the results. At the end of the day they are going to take the best rider.
Anyway, they will take me or Roan. We are going to be a strong team, or they are going to be a strong team. I don’t know. It is what it is. To be honest, it’s not really the goal at the moment. The goal is to get a ride for next year… That’s the most important thing at the moment. The ‘Nations will be cool to maybe make it a cherry on the top finish for the season. It will be cool to ride, race and compete with America and guys like that.
When are these sand test days happening? I guess it’s got to be before Turkey, hasn’t it?
19 and 20 of September.
That’s late. We need to get on the phone. That’s too late.
It’s late. I think you guys will only know maybe a few days before the ‘Nations or something.
Everyone has got to get graphics and gear ready no matter what then?
Yeah. I know that Fox is already making my gear and the team obviously have been approached for going there. I think their team has also. It’s a bit strange. I think it’s difficult, because the bikes and all that need to be ready. It’s not ready. I think now they should have made a decision earlier and stuck with it, because now it’s just a little bit difficult for them.
I think China is the September 15, so that will be the Wednesday or Thursday afterwards? You are still going to be jet lagged. It is going to be the last thing you want to do and kind of hurt you at the ‘Nations. Instead of relaxing and rebuilding, you are going to be trying to get fired up to hit a practice track as fast as possible.
Yeah. That’s how it is. I can’t really change it. We have four training days. We have 19 and 20 and then 23 and 24 [of September]. Something like that. I don’t know. I think it’s cool to train with Jeffrey [Herlings] and Glenn [Coldenhoff], then also with Roan. Just to ride together. If I don’t get picked then I’ll be riding for nothing, to be honest. I can’t look at it that way.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer