Quintin van Jaarsveld
Blake Gutzeit’s grit led to glory as team South Africa made their country proud at the International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE), which culminated in Košice, Slovakia on Saturday.
The Oslo Beach star made the journey to Slovakia with countrymen Kenny Gilbert, Brett Swanepoel, Henco Botha, Daniel van Zyl, Bradley Cox and Gerard de Billot in search of team and individual honours in what’s regarded as the World Cup of enduro.
Together, with the exception of De Billot – who raced in the Club Class – they represented South Africa in the FIM World Trophy Team Championship.
Some 450 of the world’s toughest riders from over 35 countries participated in the 90th edition of the event and had to not only conquer the terrain and elements but also service their bikes without assistance within 15 minutes of each stage to remain in contention.
Gutzeit, who made his ISDE debut in 2013, was strong throughout and clinched his maiden gold medal for finishing within 10 percent of overall winner Ryan Sipes, who became the first American to win the gruelling race.
“It was a really big goal of mine to win gold and to be consistently fast for six days is really tough. I rode consistent through the days and I think that helped me to achieve gold,” Gutzeit told eHowzit.
“I can’t criticise my riding much, other than a pretty big and scary over-the-bars on Day Three and ripping off my bum bag and having to carry it on my lap for the special test,” he laughed.
He said he drew from the support of his parents, who flew out to attend the final day of the race. “Having them there to watch me and the team finish was really cool and a special moment.”
Gutzeit said he was proud of the heart team South Africa showed, all members of the team finishing en route to placing 16th in the talent-rich team championship, which was won by France.
“The vibes in the team were really good the whole week. Some of our riders had a few problems with suspension and penalties, but it didn’t stop us all from finishing strong.”