Aldon Baker is one of the most sought after trainers in the sport – his impressive list of clients really speaks for itself. It seems as though no one is better suited to getting a rider ready for the gruelling American schedule. Obviously, Ken Roczen thought this too, as he will be on Aldon’s program from this point onwards.
Lewis Phillips: In the past, a handful of people have questioned whether Ken Roczen is fit enough to battle it out with some of the sport’s greats. Although the common consensus is that he is one of the hardest workers out there, it always seemed like he was missing that edge when it came to fitness. Now, don’t get wrong, it really has not been an issue thus far, as he has gone the distance many times without faltering – just look at the second moto at the Motocross des Nations for an example of that.
Personally, I do not think that his general fitness is not much of an issue. But, Ken mainly struggles when the temperatures rise. However, I am certain that with Aldon Baker by his side, he will be able to get around that issue in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series next year. Honestly, I am a bit concerned about how the German will fare in his rookie 450f campaign. In 2012 (when he contested the 250SX East series), he really struggled with the travel – he complained about it each week. So, how is he going to cope next year, when he has to do both coasts? In my opinion, it is the travel that will hinder his performance more than fitness. However, by improving his program with Aldon Baker, he may deal with the travel schedule a lot better.
I am really quite interested to see how this situation is going to work, as Aldon works with Ryan Villopoto, Adam Cianciarulo and Jake Weimer at the moment down at RV’s farm in Florida. Unless he has split from Ryan without anyone knowing, I would presume that he is going to stay in the Sunshine State, as Villopoto must be paying him the most money. So, the logical solution would be for Roczen to move to Florida, and jump on the same program as those guys. However, that could also pose issues, as having two top guys working that close never seems to work.
So, will this change in Ken Roczen’s program drastically improve his results? Time will tell, I guess. I do believe that he will come out at Anaheim and be much fitter, and stronger. However, will that really have too much of an impact on his supercross results? I think it will. When Villopoto started training with Aldon, he was evidently a lot better.
Jonathan McCready: This could be a game changer. Ken Roczen has previously admitted that he does not put in one-hundred-percent off the bike and that he could do more. So far, Roczen has got by with a successful mixture of his unbelievable riding talent, a lot of self-confidence and on-track intelligence.
Now though, Roczen recognises that going to the 450 and racing seventeen supercross’ and twelve outdoor nationals against two of the fittest riders in the world, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey, means that he is going to have to dedicate himself one-hundred-percent.
I believe Roczen didn’t work to 100% before, because partly he really didn’t need to, but also because he was still only a kid and he and his family wanted to keep it fun, so he didn’t suffer from burn out. Now he is on the big bikes Roczen may just have the maturity to focus one-hundred-percent, and be able to sustain that work ethic longer than his rivals in the coming years.
It is hard to believe that Ryan Villopoto will remain with Baker as there is no way Villopoto would want his trainer helping someone in the same league. But letting Baker go has strengthened one of his main competitors, and is reminiscent of when James Stewart let Aldon go and Villopoto picked him up – and you saw the results of that decision.
For me the rest of the riders should be very worried. On talent alone Roczen is arguably the best already, he has beaten his teammate Dungey the last three MXDNs on a 250 and now with the work ethic to match Dungey and Villopoto, Roczen could be about to become the man to beat in the USA.
Of course 2014 may be a little early for him to start racking up championships. But once Ken has a years experience and Aldon has a year working with him, from the 2015 season on Ken Roczen could be the new king of American motocross. It seems he has all the pieces of the puzzle in place now to do it.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Simon Cudby