With just two weeks to go before the start of the 2021 Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Marco de Canaveses, Portugal, all riders chasing championship glory are very much in final preparation mode. And none more so than defending EnduroGP and Enduro2 World Champion Steve Holcombe.
Looking forward to getting back into competition, and having shown some impressive form in both Italian and British championship events, Steve’s very much focused on chasing yet more Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship success…
Steve, we’re two weeks away from the opening race of the championship, you’ve knocked-up wins in the Italian Championship, and just won the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country, things are looking good for you…
Steve: “Thanks, yeah things have been going pretty well. I had a small setback with an injury and some health issues, so I lost a few weeks of training because of that. It wasn’t ideal but thankfully that all seems to be behind me now. I’m back on track and my pace at recent events has been good, so I’m excited to get the world championship underway!”
The goal for 2021 must be like always, win the world title?
“Yeah, my goal at GPs is always to win. The guys at Beta have worked hard over the winter and my new 350 is an absolute ripper so I’m really looking forward to riding it in anger at the world championship events.”
What EnduroGP races are you looking forward to the most this year?
“All of them! We’ve got a great calendar for this season and I’m excited to get it all underway in a few weeks.”
It must have been a relief to claim the Enduro2 and EnduroGP titles after such a rough year in 2019. Coming back from such a harsh illness (Epstein Bar Virus) to still perform at such a high level must have felt great!
“It was pretty surreal to win last year, especially after 2019 and the switch to racing on a four-stroke. I really wasn’t sure where I would stack up on the new bike, but I blew my expectations out of the water going 1-1 in France. Then the goal was the EnduroGP title and I was over the moon to fulfil that goal.”
There’s always discussion about what bike is best for traditional style enduro – two-stroke or four-stroke. What’s your take on it?
“In my opinion, I still believe the 300 two-stroke is the perfect all-round bike for our sport. Not just for beginners of club riders, but for anyone. There’re pros and cons to each in terms of what terrain they each perform best and worst on. I think it boils down to rider preference and what each rider prefers to ride. I’m really enjoying the four-stroke right now, the Beta 350 is a great all-round bike.”
During the last years it has been all about Brad and yourself for the EnduroGP title, but this year we have new players in the game like Wil Ruprecht and Josep Garcia. How do you feel about more riders making a comeback to EnduroGP?
“It’s certainly going to be an interesting year! With Josep and Wil coming in and joining Brad and I in the fight for the EnduroGP title it’s going to be a tough year. Then you have the likes of Andrea Verona, Loic Larrieu, Danny and Jamie McCanney, Thomas Oldrati, all guys that can win on their day. It’s going to be an exciting season.”
Some riders do nothing but ride, others go big on off-bike training. What works for Steve Holcombe?
“I don’t actually ride that much. Most weeks I ride two-three times, I’m not a fan of pounding laps all the time, it doesn’t do anything for me. I like mixing things up with cycling, running, rowing and gym sessions. I’ve got a good variation in my program, and it works well for me and what I need.”
What keeps you motivated, season after season?
“I love my job and the fact I know it isn’t going to last forever is my motivation. It’s certainly not easy at times but it beats working a regular job every day. As a professional motorcycle racer, I’m in a hugely privileged position. There is a lot of sacrifice, not only from me but also family and friends as you have to be very selfish as a rider. Secretly I’m aiming for Juha’s world title record too! He’s the best there’s ever been, so it’s an honour to be able to try and chase down his title record.”
What made you want to focus on enduro as a younger rider? What makes it special for you?
“Your thought process is a massive factor in enduro, which is why it appeals to me so much. Anyone can go fast in a straight line or around a few corners. It’s being consistently fast on various terrains time and time again, that’s what is so interesting to me. I like the fact it’s all down to you. No one’s in front, beside or behind you pushing you, your speed comes from you and you only, and you dictate when you push and when you don’t.”
Finally, you’re from the UK, so you’re more than used to riding in wet conditions. But you also race for an Italian team, which means you spend a good amount of time testing and training in dry, rocky conditions. Is this one of your secrets to success?
“I do think being from the UK helps a lot in enduro. If you can ride fast around a wet forest in Wales you can pretty much ride anything. Hard pack like you find in Spain is a little different, but I’ve done my work and ridden in areas where I’ve struggled and turned them into strengths. Dry, hard conditions are helped with riding the four-stroke too. The team being based in Italy, yeah, that has helped, but more in rocky conditions as there isn’t too much there other than rocks. We have good mix of conditions in the world championship, so it’s important to be able to adapt to all conditions – wet, dry, rocky, sandy, whatever…”