The Motocross of Nations is always epic. A race within a race sometimes; it’s got prestige, excitement and drama each and every moto. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every pass counts out there in all three motos.
Do I wish Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Chad Reed and others didn’t pass on the event and were racing? Well, yeah, but hopefully this is a one year only thing and we see the best of the best line up next year in the USA when it’s at Glen Helen.
Team USA is on a four-year losing streak which ties the longest since they started “coming back" to the this event in 1981. They were very good last year, but France was great. They were not so good in Latvia and Lommel, but decent in Germany. There’s no way that anyone should think that this race is ever going to be “easy" for Team USA like it used to be when the races were held in Europe.
In my opinion the pendulum has swung from where the European riders were definitely better in the 70’s, the USA riders had everyone covered in the 80’s to pretty much neutral these days. On different tracks, in different continents, you’ll have different winners.
I’ve been thinking about this weekend’s race quite a bit recently. I think this is the year Team USA breaks the streak and takes the win and my opinion has changed from when the team was first announced to now based on some good breaks for USA in terms of bad breaks for other countries. Watching the Glen Helen USGP also clarified some things for me. Here’s how I see it…
1st Team USA (Team Manager – Roger DeCoster)
4. Cooper Webb – MXGP
5. Alex Martin – MX2
6. Jason Anderson – Open
Like always, the depth of Team USA can’t be touched. USA’s best team would be Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac and Webb but failing that, these guys aren’t so bad. I’m not sure any of these guys win a moto but they’ll be top three and that will be enough to get the overall win. I one hundred percent predict some Europeans will be very upset at Anderson as he makes his way through the pack.
2nd France (Team Manager – Pascal Finot)
1. Romain Febvre – MXGP
2. Benoit Paturel – MX2
3. Gautier Paulin – Open
Add in Dylan Ferrandis or Marvin Musquin and I think the French defend their title. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t pick Marv, but Team USA is very thankful for that I’m sure. Paulin hasn’t had a great year but man does he step it up at this event. Like Paulin, Febvre is not as good this year as he was last year but he’s still very quick. I know it’s a track in USA and all that, but watching Paturel at Glen Helen end up so far back of a rider like Jeremy Martin and knowing that Alex Martin is close or better than Jeremy makes me think the MX2 class is where USA has the big edge.
3rd Belgium (Team Manager – Joel Smets)
7. Kevin Strijbos – MXGP
8. Brent Van Doninck – MX2
9. Jeremy Van Horebeek – Open
Again USA got a break here when Clement Desalle dropped out with a knee injury. Desalle, like Max Nagl or Paulin, always seems to step it up at the MXoN and ride well regardless of how his MXGP season went. The drop from Van Doninck to Desalle is huge. I originally heard that JVH was going to stay on the MX2 bike and they were going to be Brent in Open but now I see that’s been (rightfully) changed [Ed Note: We’re waiting on confirmation of this. Van Doninck was seen testing a 450F one day ago]. Belgium is always good at this race no matter who they send so expect their race to be like USA’s with consistently good finishes.
4th Switzerland (Team Manager – Diego Clement)
13. Valentin Guillod – MXGP
14. Jeremy Seewer – MX2
15. Arnaud Tonus – Open
My hot and spicy upset special right here! The Swiss won’t miss with their team this year and could end up on the podium even. I think Seewer is the favorite for MX2 victory over Martin, with his experience on this track and this type of dirt. We saw Tonus show speed in the USA but it seemed like the heat and humidity got to him late in the motos but that’s not going to be an issue in Italy. Guillod, well he’s fast but has to keep it on two wheels, which can be a challenge for him. The Swiss are so hot right now.
5th Great Britain (Team Manager – Neil Prince)
52. Tommy Searle – MXGP
53. Max Anstie – MX2
54. Shaun Simpson – Open
Team GB could win – they could even podium. I have them in fifth place because, well, something always happens to the Great Britain. They are the coyote to this race’s anvil. Something bad happens to the Union Jack boys every year as it’s like the motocross gods are punishing them for ’94 or something. Simpson and Searle had tough years so it’ll be interesting to see if they can rebound from that to put in some good results. I don’t want to piss anyone off here, but I’d have put Dean Wilson on this team. You pick which guy comes off for him, but I’d have made room for a motivated rider like the #15.
6th Holland (Team Manager – Marcel Hartman)
16. Glenn Coldenhoff – MXGP
17. Brian Bogers – MX2
18. Jeffrey Herlings – Open
I could be WAY off on this prediction. Maybe I’m biased, because I bet Chad Reed $100 bucks that Switzerland beats Holland at this race. Herlings is fast as sh*t and I got him winning a moto and Coldenhoff has been riding well near the end of the GPs. I don’t know, I just think of the Dutch and being so good in the sand and not on the hard pack Italian surface. These guys could be great and if they are, I reserve the right to change my pick.
? Canada (Team Manager – Kourtney Lloyd)
112. Kaven Benoit – MXGP
113. Shawn Maffernbeier – MX2
114. Tyler Medaglia – Open
Finally it’s my home country and they’re back at this event after skipping last year because our sanctioning body for this race (the CMA) are clueless idiots. That’s probably the kindest thing I could say about them by the way. We’re not sending our three best riders for different reasons but then again, as I’ve pointed out, not many countries are.
Benoit is very fast and this is his second time riding at this event so he should have a better idea of what to expect. Medaglia is a MXoN vet by now and what he lacks in raw speed he makes up for in fitness. Maff is the rookie on the team and I’m sure he’ll be freaking out, but he’s the key to whether Canada ends up in the A or B main. I do know that Canada and the Irish team will hook up because, well, they always do. Screw you Martin Barr and the rest of the Irish! If Canada makes the A main, it’s all gravy from there. If they can’t do that, well, there’s always next year! Unless we don’t send a team because we can never, ever get our act together.
Words: Steve Matthes | Image: ConwayMX