Calvin Vlaanderen faced some criticism after he was selected to race for The Netherlands at the 2019 Motocross of Nations, but delivered when the event was run over the weekend. A brace of tenths on his CRF250RW helped his nation climb atop the podium for the first time in history. What did he have to say when it was all said and done? This exclusive MX Vice interview was conducted on Sunday evening.
MX Vice: There was a lot of debate, hype and whatever else you want to call it about who should be in MX2 for The Netherlands. No one can argue that you were not the right pick. You did your job. You did more than actually what you probably could have or should have. You did exactly what you needed to do to help The Netherlands win, so a perfect day for you.
Calvin Vlaanderen: Yeah, not a perfect day. A perfect day for the team, obviously. We had three good races… Consistent races. I think our worst result was my tenth in both races. I would have liked to be a little bit higher up in the field, but still I’m satisfied with the tenth. It was good enough for the team. I had a lot of pressure coming into the weekend.
I came into that first race with a lot of pressure, but as soon as I had a good start and as soon as I was in the first corner all the pressure was gone. I could just ride and try to not make mistakes and try to finish as high up as I could. For the team it was very special. A very special day. We made history today. Just a great feeling.
I feel like finishing in the top ten twice is all you could want on a 250. Like you said, maybe a seventh and eighth would be better. Not many people can do that on a 250 though.
Yeah. If you are Ryan Villopoto, you can win on a 250. I think it could be possible on a hard-pack track to win on a 250, but today in the sand it was quite a big difference with the 450s. Especially on the long straights. They just haul past you, so I am satisfied with tenth in both races. I would have liked to win MX2. Second in MX2 is still good. Not too bad. Happy.
I think I saw you throw your goggles four laps from the end of the second race. I was just literally like, “Has he not learnt anything from RedBud?” Was that actually on your mind all day?
My goggles actually worked perfectly the whole day. In the first moto everyone was in front of me. I was getting roosted all the time. I actually finished my film on the roll-off. I had to pull the goggles off. I knew it was like two laps to go or three laps to go, so it was a good time. There was no one really in front of me. I could see a little bit better when I took the goggles off and there were no rocks on the track. No eyes were getting hit.
In the second race, I was behind [Zach] Osborne on the third lap and trying to make a pass on him. He went over a single and just got on the gas. The sand actually went underneath my helmet, underneath my goggles and I was pulling my roll-offs. It was not working, because it was underneath. I had to take my goggles off. I made a decision to come into the Goggle Lane. I lost about ten seconds, because I stalled it there.
We won’t talk about that [laughs].
I think I could have won MX2, because I passed [Thomas] Olsen on the first lap. I passed [Jago] Geerts first lap. I felt like I was going to pass Osborne in the waves. That was the only place that I could pass on the track against the 450s. What more can I say? That was it.
I was trying to figure out if the rain helped you guys or hurt you. You are all great sand riders, so already you had an advantage. The rain made it more technical, so I guess your skills would shine through more. It also made it more of a lottery though. Do you think it would have favored you more to have the conditions from yesterday or today?
Tough question. How many points did we win by?
Like a gazillion. I don’t know.
I think if it would have been dry and sunny, not to be cocky but I think we would have done the same. Maybe America or France would have had more luck and been up there with us. I think we still would have won if it was dry. Today we proved in the rain, in the sun or whatever we can still do it. I think yesterday the track was a little better. Today they did not really make it flat overnight, so all the rain just went into the ruts and just made it super soft.
I think my bike got stuck twice in the warm-up this morning. I was thinking, “It’s going to be a terrible day in the rain.” I just tried to put a positive mind to it and have fun. That’s the most important thing – to have fun – and also live in the moment. The day goes by very fast. Now if I look back, I wish I was back on that podium screaming with all the Dutch fans. That goes by like a split second. Very special day.
How has the reaction been from Dutch fans since you were picked? Obviously, there was a lot of debate. Have the people who wanted Roan [van de Moosdijk] been giving you a hard time or has it been quite peaceful?
It’s been quite peaceful. Obviously, a lot of people have their own opinions and I respect that. A lot of people thought that Roan was the better choice, which maybe he was. Who knows? I showed today that I was still a good pick. I think the team manager is very happy with his decision. Nothing against Roan.
He could have also done great today. A few negative things I have seen on Facebook and Instagram but, to be honest with you, I think I proved everyone wrong today. We proved last year that we should have won, but we had a bit of an unlucky situation. This year we just proved that The Netherlands are the fastest at the moment.
We have talked about you getting a ride forever now. From what I hear, things are looking up. You cannot say too much, but it sounds like you’ll at least be on the start line?
Definitely. There was no question about not being on the start line. I was always going to be there. I was maybe going to go to America, but that’s kind of fallen away. I will definitely be on the starting line next year. I don’t know what bike or what team.
I’ve heard rumours. Does this mean you are not close to doing a deal?
I’m close, but it’s not confirmed yet at all. I just saw my manager and he said, “I need to talk to you later.” I know that I’m going to go chat to him and find out what’s happened over the weekend as soon as I’m done with this interview. I have not chatted to him. The plan was to wait until after this weekend obviously to get all the pressure… The pressure and the goal was to focus on this weekend. We did that. I think now it’s time to sign my contract and get ready for next year.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX