The 2016 International Six Days Enduro starts Tuesday in Navarra, Spain but Team USA lost Ryan Sipes last week after he collided with another rider in the pits at the 12th round of the Grand National Cross Country series leaving him with a broken arm and a concussion.
Last year, Sipes became the first American in 90 years of the event to win the individual overall, the lone bright spot for Team USA in 2015 after Kailub Russell tore his ACL and Thad Duvall dropped out upon an electric failure. Thus, it was a no-brainer to bring Sipes back for the 2016 team considering his experience and success, along with a background in Motocross.
Team USA started well in 2015, which was held in Slovakia, ending Day 1 as the top team, which had never happened before. On Day 2, they were just eight seconds back of Australia and Russell appeared headed for the individual overall despite tweaking his knee on the day's final test. On Day 3 he crashed twice and his run ended. He returned to the United States early and an MRI confirmed the injury though he managed to clinch his third GNCC title the following week before bowing out of the off-road season.
On Day 4, Duvall's loss left just three members of the team competing since Taylor Robert was one of eight disqualified riders at the time. His later temporary reinstatement did little for Team USA in the standings. It was the second year bad luck got in the way of a very strong USA team. In 2014, the Americans finished a best-ever second-place but mechanical problems and injury also held them back.
Furthermore, the 2015 ISDE featured some controversy when the disqualified riders who got lost and missed a punch card on Day 3 were reinstated on Day 5 dropping Team Australia from the top spot and giving France the victory. Two months later during an appeals process at FIM Headquarters a judge ruled to officially disqualify those riders, which handed the win back to the Aussies. Team Australia was the only Top 5 team with no rider disqualifications. During the original podium celebration the riders from Australia briefly stood at the center of the podium before walking off in protest.
Known as the Olympics of Motorcycling, the ISDE started in 1913 as the International Six Day Trial which changed to its current name in 1981. The enduro-style race extends more than 1,000 miles and requires riders to obey specific rules.Countries send two teams to compete in the World Trophy class and the Junior Trophy class. Traditionally, the World Trophy class brought six riders and the Junior team had four. But a rule change for this year drops the World team to four riders and the Junior class to three.
Russell, who just won his fourth-straight GNCC Championship, is back, as well as Duvall and Taylor Robert. As of now, Layne Michael, who won GNCC Round 12 in the XC2 class replaces Sipes on the World team. The 2014 winning Junior team consisting of Grant Baylor, Steward Baylor, Trevor Bollinger return for the 2016 campaign. The Junior Trophy class consists of riders younger than 23.