Viewpoint: Antonio Cairoli

Antonio Cairoli tackles the hot topics

· 7 min read

Although Antonio Cairoli experienced another crushing defeat at the Grand Prix of France, round ten of the FIM Motocross World Championship, it was an impressive showing, considering the circumstances. The knee that he injured at the previous event in Great Britain stopped him from training last week and is discussed in this exclusive interview, along with many other hot topics.

MX Vice: More points lost today but, considering the knee and everything, I feel like it could have gone a lot worse than this.

Antonio Cairoli: Yeah, my knee is bothering me quite much lately after the twist last week in England. I could not ride this week. I feel it, actually. I could not train. I could not run. I could not really do much. I really feel it today. Jeffery [Herlings] is on a point now that you cannot miss any training. You need to stay with him all the time and keep the speed for all of the race. I dropped [the pace in] the last eight minutes again and was getting really very tired on the second moto.

Antonio Cairoli now trails Jeffrey Herlings by sixty-two points (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

The first moto I spent all my energy trying to overtake Glenn [Coldenhoff]. He did not really make it easy, but this is racing. It is KTM also. We tried to do as much as possible teamwork. After I could pass him I quickly moved to Desalle, who is hard to pass, but I only get him on the last two laps and it was difficult. I should have passed him. When you say it, it is easy, but to make it happen is another thing. I finished third. In the second moto I did my best to try to stay in front but after twenty-five minutes I start dropping my time and start feeling very tired.

I could not really respond to the bumps and the ruts, so I was riding a little stiff and making mistakes. Jeffrey was on a pace very, very strong. It was difficult to stop his coming. It is racing. Hopefully we can have some more luck and try to build up again a good moment with training and try to stay in front with the start again. This is the key.

With your knee, is there actually damage? Is it a ligament? Is it a fracture? Is there something wrong like that?

It is just fluid inside. My patella I think I hit and the cartilage is a little bit damaged. This is what is bothering me. It is the fluid inside. It is swollen. I cannot really bend it completely anymore. It is just painful in certain moments. On this track it was very important. It was very slick and you always lost the leg in the ruts, so I was suffering a little bit. Not complaining about the knee. Mostly it was my fitness, which was not on top for trying to win that second moto.

The ruts made it very tough on Antonio Cairoli's injured knee (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

Was there one part of the track that was particularly hard with the knee? I think it is your left knee, so I guess the left-hand turns?

The left-hander, especially the second corner after the start. Sometimes it was good when you had a good grip but sometimes, when you lost the front and you put it down, it was quite difficult. Not really much bothering a lot. Only a lot of pain in some parts when you hit it and after was okay again. Most of the time was the consistency to keep the same speed every lap… To try to stay in front is the key at the moment.

Speaking of that second turn, Jeffrey passed you there. Were you okay with that pass? From television it was kind of tough to see the angles and whether he cut you up a bit. Was it all okay?

It is racing. For sure, he knows that he is very strong at the moment with the conditions. He is attacking all the time until the last lap. I was very tired. I could not really reply. I was in the moment that I was just trying to not make too much mistakes. I could not attack more. In this case, if it were more fresh for sure I could respond a little bit. That was not the case of this second moto.

We did not talk to you last week and have got to ask. That pass in the first moto. How did you feel about it?

Everybody saw it. Everybody has different opinions. If I was on his side, for sure I should not do it because he has a lot of points in front. You do not really need to do that. He was faster on that lap and in that part of the race again, so he could pass me somewhere else. He just searched for the contact and this was clear. The first time he touched me, it can happen, but the second time, he just came to my wheel.

Everybody can say what they want. For me, it was a little bit too hard. It was not necessary, but it is racing and it is fighting for the title. If you want to keep it on that way, there are many races… A lot to go. I have nothing to lose anymore. The points drop on the back, so from now I hope I can be a little bit more fit and attacking a little bit more aggressively in all the races.

There is a lot of respect between Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

Another thing that people like to talk about from last week is that after the second moto, I think it was on TV that you did not shake his hand whilst riding off of the track. Why was that? Did you just not see him? Was there a simple explanation?

No, it was nothing to say about it. First moto I compliment with him, but maybe nobody saw it? Not many people see this, but when you are second for sure you are a little bit frustrated. Nothing wrong. I did not even see that he was giving me the hands. I see after on the replay that he wanted to do the hands, but I just passed through because I was for sure pissed off. When you lost the GP, it is not always easy. I did nothing wrong and, by the way, he also did not come to say sorry after the first moto. What I should always suggest to everybody is that when you are racing, you do not want enemy on the track. Hopefully this is not his case.

Speaking of frustration, I am guessing that is building now. Can you think back through your career to a moment like this? Maybe with the injuries the last couple years, but that was different. I seem to remember 2010, the beginning of that year did not go well. I think that was because of an injury though.

Yeah. Like I said in the press conference, I think the speed is a little bit over the limit at the moment. You can see it. I think you cannot go faster than this. Speaking of race speed, I think it is very, very fast. It is also a very, very high line and a very thin line that everything can go wrong in a minute on this speed.

It was never necessary for me to go so fast. Now the bikes have improved and you feel more safe with suspension and the handling. I think it is easier to go faster than before for sure, but you need to be very fit to stay on that speed for all the forty minutes. That is what we can do, me and him, most of the time, but the rest are a little bit struggling.

Antonio Cairoli now heads to a track he won at just last year (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

I think that is where people maybe are not giving you enough credit. You are finishing second, sure, but in my opinion you are riding better than ever. You may feel like that as well?

Yeah. I am also ten years older than him. It is not that old people also do not think about it. His recuperation time is quicker and everything. I am riding with kids ten years younger than me and I am still there in front. I should see it this way.

With the knee, are you going to be able to train this week? Is Ottobiano going to be another tough one?

I do not know. For sure I take some rest now… Monday, Tuesday. I see my doctor and see if we can maybe draw the liquid, the fluid of the knee, or just rest two days. For sure Wednesday I want to train and I want to do some sand riding. Hopefully be ready for a fight again at Ottobiano, which is a track that is really tough but for sure for him it is also a very good track. He is a very good sand rider also. We will try to stay with him and see what happens.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer

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