“Verstappen should be Sportsman of the Year 2021”

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“Yes, what Max has done this year…”, Herlings responds in conversation with Motorsport.com on the nominees for the NOC*NSF Sportsman of the Year election that takes place tonight. As a Formula 1 enthusiast and Red Bull colleague, Herlings awards Verstappen the prize. “I think he is way above it this year,” concludes the crosser who regularly joined Ziggo Sport in the last weeks of the Formula 1 season to talk about the premier class of motorsport.

Like Verstappen, Herlings also entered the final race of the year with an equal number of points as his biggest competitor. Also in that final in Mantova, Italy, the main prize went to the Netherlands. There are similarities in many ways. Herlings, like Verstappen, lost many points through no fault of his own. In the case of the motocross rider, another competitor landed on his shoulder, costing him 75 World Cup points, and someone ran over his bike in the closing stages of the season, turning an apparently overlooked race into a thrilling race. Despite the similarities and great pressure on Herlings, the KTM rider understands why he was not nominated.

He was clear about missing out on that nomination – Herlings made it to the shortlist, but dropped out for the last three. “I didn’t expect anything else.” Herlings made himself known in the past around the gala, where he was regularly overlooked and also had to leave the Talent of the Year prize after a world title to BMX’er Laura Smulders, who took bronze. the London Olympics. Also this year it is, among other things, a BMX rider who keeps him out of the selection, as Niek Kimman has been nominated alongside track cyclist Harrie Lavreysen and Verstappen.

It doesn’t bother him that much that Herlings was not nominated this year. “I probably wouldn’t have won it anyway”, emphasizes The Bullet once again that Verstappen should take the prize in his eyes. Nevertheless, the Brabander also tells honestly that he did not expect to be able to participate for the main prize in any case. “First of all, it’s an Olympic year and Max is coming to that now. But to be honest, I didn’t think this was my best season either. In 2018, when I became world champion in MXGP for the first time, I won almost every GP “I think I didn’t win two GPs from the races I drove. That year I should have just got that prize,” Herlings is clear about the year in which Kjeld Nuis took home the title. “If you don’t win it then you’ll never win it,” the KTM rider resigns himself to the fact that he probably won’t qualify for the honorary title anytime soon.

Today Herlings is at peace with it. Whether it’s realism or cynicism, the five-time world champion doesn’t sleep a night less about it. “It is of course very nice when people, athletes, vote for you and that is a nice appreciation, but my life will not suddenly change if I win that prize. I don’t sleep a night less because of it.”

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