It was the battle the world had been waiting for – and when it eventually came the duo didn’t disappoint!
Like Stewart v Carmichael 12 years before or Everts v Tortelli 20 years ago, when the greats face-off, it’s a special time in the sports history.
Foruntately for all of us, 2017 saw the current generation of greats finally going head-to-head.
Cairoli took the first big sand battle at Ottobiano under the intense humidity of the Italian summer as Herlings succumbed to the heat after a stomach bug.
But he was back for Lommel and this time he caught and passed Cairoli – then held on to the win! Cairoli didn’t lie down and came back hard at Herlings but the Dutchman had a point to prove as the two best sand riders in the world put on a display of sand riding at it’s finest.
Once Herlings was in full flow the mind games began during the season, with each rider having a reason for defeat.
Herlings dismissed Cairoli’s claim he settled for second at Lommel or that he was riding for the championship. Cairoli for his part upped his game this season when he needed to in order to prove the doubters wrong and show that he could beat Herlings straight up when he wanted too.
It was almost as if Cairoli had been holding back and waiting for this sort of challenge to show how fast he can really go when he is really challenged.
And we get to see it all over again in 2018!