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Day four takes toll on U.S. riders at ISDE

September 28, 2012

Story and photos by Steve Berkner


U.S. Club team rider Jeff Fredette makes quick work of the black German mudl on day four of the 2012 ISDE.


U.S. Club team rider Michael Jolly.


U.S. Club team rider Devan Bolin.


U.S. Club team rider Scott Bright rolls toward the pits.


U.S. Trophy Team rider Charlie Mullins rolls into final impound.


U.S. Trophy Team rider Taylor Robert during the evening work period.


U.S. Trophy Team rider Russell Bobbitt.


U.S. Women's Team rider Sarah Whitmore.

With the day-four injury of U.S. World Trophy Team rider Charlie Mullins, the United States fell out of the battle for a podium finish in this year’s International Six Days Enduro in Saxony, Germany. The injury -- the third one to be suffered by the U.S. Trophy Team in the last four days -- dropped the six-rider US Trophy Team to seventh from fifth.

Mullins, who had led the charge for the U.S. team after perennial U.S. top American finisher Kurt Caselli got hurt on day one of the ISDE, dropped from sixth in the E2 class to 61st when he lost 42 minutes while seeking medical assistance for a shoulder injury.

“With Charlie’s (42 penalty points for being late), we're sure to move down in the standings,” said U.S. Team manager Antti Kallonen. “Unfortunately, these things happen, and when they do you hope the rider can continue to ride without risking further injury.”

Both Caselli and Mullins have suffered shoulder separations, and both have chosen to continue to ride.

“It was tough getting through the day,” Mullins said. “I really want to finish, for myself and for the team. I’ve never been known as a quitter, so tonight we’ll have a look at it and see if there’s something the doctor can do to ease the pain for tomorrow.”

Mullins injury happened on the fourth test of the day, or about half way through the 205-mile day.

“This year we’ve had a lot more injuries than normal,” Kallonen said. “On the trophy team Caselli (shoulder), Robert (tendonitis) and now Mullins all have injuries, and that’s not what we hoped for because there is so much fierce competition here. All of these riders are giving it their best and holding on for the team because it’s not over until the checkered flag of the final moto on day six.”

The top three teams in the Trophy team division are France, Australia and Italy.

While the U.S. Trophy Team dropped out of contention for a top-three finish, the U.S. Junior Team kept its lock on third place overall behind France and Great Britain.

“Thad Duvall just keeps getting better where he’s moving up in the standings, very impressive,” Kallonen said. “Andrew Delong had another good day, and Jesse Groemm has finally got in the grove where he’s making a difference.

“This team is having very good results here where injuries back home gave Duvall, Groemm and (Travis) Coy a chance to ride with no experience at all with Six Days. (Coming here), we didn’t quite know what to expect from this team with only Andrew having Six Days experience, but they’ve proven they are all good Six Days riders.”

Day four of the ISDE saw a repeat of day three’s course, but an overnight rain that lasted well into the early daylight hours made conditions difficult for many of the remaining 478 riders that started on day one.

“(With the rain) this morning, it was like freezing cold riding out to the tests,” Duvall said. “My feet were numb, and my hands were numb, but once we got out there the sun came out it was kind of awesome. I’m a mud rider back home, and I really don’t mind it when it rains, but I saw a lot of people struggling to keep time.” Day four also saw the U.S. Women’s Team retire two of its three riders, and the team now sits in sixth place just ahead of Canada, which has only one rider on its team as well.

“Sarah (Whitmore) finally hit her breaking point (after injuring her left forearm and hand in a day-one crash),” Kallonen said. “She tried her best and did the best she could with her injuries.

“We also lost Gutish today,” he added. “Rachel hurt her leg pretty bad yesterday and had re-impounded (after houring out). Both of these gals deserve credit for continuing on with those types of injuries.”

The top three teams in the Women’s Trophy division are France, Germany and Australia.

In the three-rider club team division, the U.S. Wellard Team -- made up of riders Jordan Brandt, Fred Hoess and John Barber -- moved up to 14th place from 17th.

Along with Whitmore and Gutish, the U.S. team lost riders Nick Hamill (mechanical), Ron Schmelzle (exclusion) and Scott Bright (medical) from its original 31-rider squad. Bright was admitted to the hospital with broken ribs.

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