No doubt about it, Jeffrey Herlings is the Fastest Man on The Planet. Even at 60% or 70% fitness still “The Bullet” is the man. While he might have lost his MXGP championship in 2019 and lost a major part of his career in the process, he fought back to win the last two GPs of the season and is looking likely to lead The Netherlands to their first-ever MXoN victory, more than 70 years after it was first to run in Wassenaar, Holland back in 1947.
Now with 86 GP wins, the four-time World motocross champion enters what will be the biggest individual race of his illustrious career, the 2019 Monster Energy Motocross of Nations, at his beloved Assen, the place he scored his first 450 championship and received massive support from his countrymen.
This time though, alongside “The Bullet” will be Glenn Coldenhoff, his good friend and a rider who has suddenly risen out of the shadows of Herlings to some extent. Believe me, speaking to both these guys on Sunday evening in Shanghai, China, you can see they are already preparing mentally for what could be the biggest day in their countries motocross history.
We caught up with the FMOTP and asked him about his win last weekend, the MXoN and anything else of interest.
Watching you on the weekend, it didn’t look like you felt comfortable out there. Was that the case?
I felt good out there, so that is weird. I felt good on the bike and I am not 100% and I haven’t ridden much, like five-week or something. Maybe I don’t look my normal self yet, but it was enough to win the last two weeks.
Was it frustrating at all, because it seemed like it was really hard to make up ground on Glenn?
I had to be smart. I am not my normal self and normally I have months of preparation and I am not in my best shape. I need to calculate a little with my energy, see how I felt and then be smart and put the hammer down at the end of the race.
Any trouble with your arms this weekend?
Just a little bit on Saturday, but not so bad on Sunday. Sweden was really bad, but it is getting less and less throughout the time.
Can you just explain the weekend for me?
The first moto I just couldn’t make it and I am very thankful winning the last two races of the season and I am looking forward to next year. I wanted to save some energy in the first race, but the second moto I missed the start a bit and it was a bit tricky, and tough to overtake and I needed to get to second. I managed to win it at the end, and I am pretty happy. I want to thank the team and my personal sponsors.
It has been a tough year, hasn’t it?
We had a tough season mentally and also physically and it was hard when I broke my ankle in June and I told my friend I am over it, I don’t want to race anymore I just want to get healthy and I missed racing and I wasn’t sure if I would race, because the doctor said two or three months and we were back in six weeks. I came back in Sweden and I wasn’t ready and to come back it was tough. This year I haven’t been able to walk for four months and to come back and finish the year like this. I am not 100% and to win the last two of the year is pretty nice. I am back for Assen and I am looking forward to that. Glenn is 100% and he has been the man to beat really and we decide on the MX2 riders and we have a great team and we go for gold.
I know your focus is Assen, so have you only been preparing in the sand?
I haven’t ridden hard pack to be honest, so to win in Turkey was special, because we had like two days of riding on hard pack, just riding in the sand basically.
Talking about the Nations at Assen. What about Glenn, you guys must be super confident?
I think if we all stay healthy until the Nations, then we have to win. If we don’t win this year, maybe we never win in our careers. Finally, we need to win. We have never won yet.
You are one of the few teams that is remaining healthy.
Now Tonus is out for Switzerland.
Yes, I mean you and America are also fit, but that must give you a lot of confidence?
We are in good shape for sure. I am not like the same shape I was last year, but Glenn is even better and our MX2 guy is strong. We are in a luxury position now. I am getting closer to 100%. I am spending more time on the bike and I am working for the MXoN, I don’t want to let my nation down.
You mentioned in the press conference you wanted to stop after breaking your ankle in the car on the way back from Kegums.
Only for this year man!
Oh, ok, because a lot of people thought you mean forever. Have you ever thought of stopping for good, or I guess you love it too much?
I love it too much. I came back from injury, five or six weeks on the bike and then broke it again and I was like damn, I by the time I have good speed it is half September, but I decided to go for Assen this year.
Team USA, they are looking solid. It will be tough for them, but they look motivated.
I think they have one of the best teams out there. Cairoli out, Tonus out, Desalle out, Anstie out, so many others. America don’t send Tomac or Cianciarulo, but still they send a good team, so for the moment America is our biggest competition.
What about preparation for Assen?
We do three times this week, then a race in Dunkirk on Sunday because it will be my only race in the sand this year. Then, two practice the week before Assen.
And the King of Holland is coming, how cool is that?
Yes, I don’t think he has visited a motocross race before. So that is pretty special. We need to win for the King.
Ray Archer images