It is almost time for Adam Cianciarulo to show the world, or at least America, what he has got.
The young Kawasaki protégé is more famous for being “AC” in the USA than six time world championship Antonio Cairoli. Yes, that’s right, a schoolboy rider is getting more exposure in the USA than the multi- time world champion. That’s pressure right there!
In fact, Cianciarulo has maybe got more exposure than even a young James Stewart or Ricky Carmichael. Of course the advent of the internet makes it easier but still, Cianciarulo has been touted in the US media as the “next big thing” for years – he is that good.
He is the most hyped schoolboy rider ever. Even Roczen and Herlings, despite winning GPs at 15, have not had quite the hype of this guy coming into the pros.
Adam is now 16 and is preparing to compete in his first outdoor national championship series in just two months. But it would have been interesting to see him race some GPs at 15 to see if he could emulate what Roczen and Herlings accomplished because from what everyone says, he could be their US equivalent.
The super fast amateurs of America have all won their first national title in their first year. RC did it at 17, Travis Pastrana was 16 as was James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto. Even Mike “believe the hype” Alessi finished second in his first season.
Adam, if he is to fill the shoes of the rookie phenom, will have to finish first or at least second to show everyone he is of the level of guys whose footsteps he aspires to follow. It is the curse of the having the hype. The increased expectation will put a lot of extra pressure on Cianciarulo to prove that all this exposure is worth it.
Of course he has had all the practical help from everyone he needs. He has been riding on the factory Kawasaki supercross track from he was on 80s and has been riding at Ryan Villopoto’s house from he was on 80s as well. He has been around and ridden with the best, he has picked their brains and will start on probably the best team in the business – Pro Circuit Kawasaki.
Or is it? Pro Circuit are having a slump of sorts recently. They didn’t win a supercross title last year and so far this season have only won one race, it also looks like they won’t win a supercross title again in 2013 after Dean Wilson’s injury.
Mitch Payton’s team used have the pick of the fast Amateurs in the US scene but now the Geico Honda team are taking the kids earlier and letting them be part of their team before they even turn pro.
The Kawasaki team are not longer getting the best guys in America, but they are also not getting the odd supercross dreaming GP rider either.
KTM have cornered that market now. Four years ago Mitch was able to get GP champions Pourcel and Rattray, but instead of Roczen and Musquin following suit they have stayed with KTM, so Mitch is losing on both sides of the recruitment battle.
Essentially the other teams have caught up with their recruitment policy, so without the best riders it is harder to win in SX/MX.
This where Adam comes in because, for the first time since Dean Wilson, Pro Circuit have got the top rider straight from the amateurs. They were so desperate to keep Adam, they signed up early to a pro contract to ensure no other teams stole him before he turned 16.
But this is where the surprising extra element of pressure is on Adam. Pro Circuit is effectively relying on him to bring them back the supercross titles in 2014 and beyond. Cianciarulo isn’t just riding for himself he is riding to bring Pro Circuit back to where they used to be – the dominant force.
On the plus side Cianciarulo is used to the media and he enjoys the spotlight, so both of these things will work in his favour and he is also training with Aldon Baker so his fitness shouldn’t be a problem. Adam has the personality of Travis Pastrana with the desire and winning record of a Ricky Carmichael.
The kid has a lot of things in his favour, maybe more than any rider in history but, the question is can he deliver the titles that are expected of him? In theory the answer is yes, but the reality is still unknown.
I hope he can because Mitch Payton’s team is counting on it.
Article by Jonathan McCready