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Thomas Olsen is another rider who is actually benefitting from this break in the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship schedule, as it has given him an opportunity to fix the scaphoid injury that he suffered in January. The fact that he actually sustained an injury of that magnitude was swept under the carpet for the most part. What actually happened leading up to the first round though? MX Vice editor Lewis Phillips caught up with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider to get to the bottom of what’s been going on.
MX Vice: Let’s talk about your pre-season injury, first of all. It was really kept quite quiet through February, so what happened and what did the month prior to the Grand Prix of Great Britain look like?
Thomas Olsen: Yeah, we didn’t really talk much about it. We were on a hard-pack track and it was super slippery – we were not pushing or anything. It was just a warm-up. The rear-end slipped out and I high-sided into the ground. I hurt myself a bit, but I thought I got lucky at first. It was not on the RedSand track but we were living at their facility. The pain kept going, so we went to the hospital there and they actually said nothing was broken. I thought I got lucky again, because it was a hard hit, but I was not even able to sleep that night.
I woke up the next morning and knew I had to go back to Belgium to get the thing looked at. I couldn’t waste time – we were only five weeks out from England. I was going back to Belgium and still thinking that nothing was wrong. I got a CT scan and it turned out that I broke my scaphoid. I have never had that injury before, but they said it was a small bone and that I should be good again in three or four weeks. They said that bone can be tricky to heal sometimes though and that I had to have a screw put in.
I got it done super quick, so we could get started with the healing. I didn’t have a full cast on – it was like a brace that I could take off and train with. I could still stay in shape a little bit with cycling and stuff like that. It was pretty boring going from riding every day to just sitting in the gym. I haven’t dealt with many injuries the last couple of years. It was just a small hand injury, but it was harder on me than I expected. I have always been used to the grind and never been behind.
Rasmus [Jorgensen] actually said that I would have some pain when I started riding again. I was like, “What? I think I should be good!” I got back on the bike though and the jumps were very difficult. I was wondering why, because they said the bone had fully healed. It wasn’t so good – that was the week before England. I got like two and a half days back on the bike, and just a bit of time on a turn track. I knew I was not going to be ready, but I knew that I hadn’t forgotten how to ride a bike.
I found out just how much that actually means, just being off the bike for five weeks and how much that actually does to you, when I got to England. The other guys had already done some pre-season races, so they already had the intensity. I was just trying to get a good flow on the track and not make too many mistakes. Dealing with the pain on those big jumps was kind of difficult, so it was a little bit harder on me than I expected. I got myself together for a pretty good second moto though.
There was just so much pain the day after and I had to do a lot of therapy on it, which I also did before. I went to Valkenswaard and we had ridden in the sand once. It was just so difficult to get back into sand riding, because I had not ridden that since December. Holland and Belgium were really wet at that time, so it was like going out to a mud hole. That was really difficult too. The track was just so deep at Valkenswaard. I got out there in practice and was riding around thinking, “How the hell am I supposed to do a full moto without crashing?”
I could barely do one lap without crashing. That was just hard on me, not being prepared. Mentally it was the hardest thing. I had pain in my hand, yeah, but at that point I was just frustrated that I was so out of shape. I crashed in the qualifying moto, so I was completely on the outside, and at that point I just decided that I was going to take the points that I could get. I was just making too many mistakes and wanted to get through it with good points. I did that even after crashing on the start both times. I wanted to move on from there and try to get in good shape.
We actually went back to RedSand after that, because it was a weekend off and we knew we could get some riding done. That is really what I needed. I thought that I would feel so much better once we got there, but it just kept on hurting me. They have got quite big jumps on the MXGP track there and I tried to ride, but it was just hurting me every time I landed. I didn’t have time to think about it though. Argentina was not too far away at that point, so if I got it looked at again then I could have ended up missing that.
I was trying to be quiet and not let how much pain I had get to me. It was then announced that we would be missing some rounds and at that point I was like, “I have got to go back to hospital and get this thing looked at.” The screw in my hand had come out a tiny bit and that was causing me some problems with movement and stuff like that – that was causing the pain too. I got an appointment to get it taken out the day after, even with the virus and stuff like that, and I immediately felt so much better.
My hand felt free again and I didn’t cramp up during the night. I took two or three weeks off of the bike again, but no one was riding in that time. I went back to Denmark, because nothing was happening, and they just opened up all of the tracks again here. Now that I am back on track it is feeling really good again – that is just a huge relief.
Had the series been normal and the races been run when they were supposed to be, you would not have had time to have another surgery. Do you think you would have been able to make it to the end of the year with the pain that you were in?
I’m not even sure. Maybe we could have done something with one weekend off, like gotten it taken out and tried to be ready again. It would have been half solutions the entire time. It would have taken me so long to get ready again, and that would have sucked really bad. I don’t really know how to look at this thing. If we start up again in July, then I would say it has been kind of a good thing for me…
It has been a really good thing!
Yeah, on the racing side. Obviously not from every other perspective. If I have to find something positive that would be it. I think I would have had a hard time continuing like that. My competitors were in very good shape and I was just sat there knowing I was not in good shape. I was definitely behind. It gave me a new chance.
I am nervous at the same time though. I am nervous about how long it will be before we go racing and if we even do that. I am really nervous about that. It’s my last year in the MX2 class – I really want to give it my all and go for it. It’s a dream of mine to win the world title and I want to leave the class knowing I have done everything I can to achieve that.
Winning the title is the goal, like you said, especially after being second and third the last couple of years. Did you feel more pressure at the first two rounds though? Did it feel different?
I would say that I did feel more pressure at the first two rounds, just because I had been on the couch and was not riding. The expectations didn’t really… The team told me to just take it easy, but it was hard for me to put the expectations down. I just want it so bad. It was tough for me to go out there and get an eleventh and a fifth. Coming in underprepared was the worst thing and then having the pressure too. If I was prepared and knew I had done everything right, then I could have relaxed more. That was the most difficult thing.
You had to be happy with the first two rounds though. Considering everything that happened, including the crashes, that is just fine.
Yeah. It has just been a tough start, like you said. I have had crashes and stuff like that. I have been looking at the videos from Matterley, and I can just see that I had no power in my arms whatsoever. My chest was right on my bar pad every time I landed off a jump. When I was riding at RedSand after Valkenswaard, I realised that I was quite happy with how the first two Grands Prix went. I couldn’t do two laps in Spain! How the hell did I survive Matterley with those jumps and conditions?
This is something worth addressing: Your greatest strength is consistency, compared to everyone else in the MX2 class. Where does that come from? Is it a conscious effort? You agree though, right? You are consistent!
Yeah, that’s kind of right. I have been consistent but there have still be ups and downs. If you ask me, then I want to be more consistent. I really got it handed to me last year with [Jorge] Prado winning every single round nearly. You are always looking to be better, so that is what I am looking at. I don’t know. I think the thing that I’m good at is if I’m having a tough weekend, then I could be sat there on Saturday evening and thinking that two top ten results would make me happy. I end up pulling out a podium on some of those days though. That’s what I think I’m good at – pulling out something extra when I’m not comfortable.
Last thing. This is your last season in MX2, and you do need an MXGP deal. A few people seem to think that you are going to automatically end up on a Husqvarna or that Rasmus will just look after you. That is not necessarily the case though, is it?
Yeah. Rasmus and I work together, but we are also super good friends. It is also business and I need a good deal. In these times it can be really difficult, but I am out there looking for a deal and hopefully I can get a decent one. I am not a rider who goes out there and says he wants a million euros. I’m the type of rider who goes out there and proves myself. I still want to get what I am worth, but I also want to prove what I am worth.
The 450F should be good for you as well. You are actually one of the bigger guys, so I would imagine you are quite excited to get on a bigger bike.
Yeah, I am. I am really excited. The 250F is a bit of a struggle for me sometimes. I am naturally pretty lean, but to try and get down in weight to where the other guys are is like impossible for me. I will actually die before doing that [laughs]. I know it is a difficult class and everything, but we will see if it suits me better. I haven’t ridden a 450F that much. Having the power with my weight and height will probably help me a bit though.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer