Sadly, the Motocross des Nations is no longer about the best three riders from each country battling it out, as the selection process is far from simple nowadays. Although, just a handful of teams have been announced for the 2013 edition of the MXdN, there has been quite a bit of controversy already with a few nations, which we will be getting into here.
On Monday, the news emerged that Ryan Villopoto would not be competing in the MXdN, as he will be going under the knife at the conclusion of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross title fight to have surgery on his ankle. Remember his vicious crash at St Louis back in 2010? Ryan still has some metalwork in his ankle that has been aggravating him. Obviously, the goal for Villopoto is the 2014 season. So by getting the surgery soon after Lake Elsinore RV will have more than enough time to prepare for Anaheim 1. Although the MXdN is a big deal for any rider, it does not equate to the same importance as the Monster Energy AMA Supercross title.
Originally it was a foregone conclusion that the American MXdN team would consist of Ryan Villopoto, Eli Tomac and Ryan Dungey. Now, those three would have been unstoppable – so, maybe it is better for the racing that RV is not there? I do believe that Ryan Dungey will now move into the MX1 slot for the squad, so who will be their final, third member? It seems like Justin Barcia is most likely to fill the void – the Muscle Milk Honda pilot will surely be looking for redemption following the event in 2013.
Although losing Ryan Villopoto is certainly a blow to the Americans, it will not have too much of an impact on their chances – the talent pool that they have to choose from is unrivalled. If Great Britain were to lose their main player it would have more of an impact on them, as the other nations do not have as many riders to choose from. So whether the USA has Villopoto, Barcia or James Stewart (an unlikely candidate for the spot), they will go in as the favourites.
The French team is usually the most likely nation to beat the Americans, as they have a good group of riders to choose from. Obviously, they have two strong riders, which are an asset to their team – Marvin Musquin and Gautier Paulin. It would be just insane if the squad elected to not include one of those guys, right, as they would be shooting themselves in the foot. So, you can imagine the shock, and disbelief when the French team was announced, and Marvin Musquin (a two-time world champion) was nowhere to be seen.
Admittedly, Marvin Musquin does not usually perform at his best at the event, as Marvin has failed to finish in the top five in a moto since his debut at the event in 2009. Whilst his fellow MX2 riders have excelled and battled it out up front, Musquin has seemingly struggled at the event for whatever reason. But I don’t believe that this is the reason that he wasn’t selected, as he is still a world champion with plenty of experience – so it really does not make sense to choose a rider that would be new to the event (such as Christophe Charlier) over him.
It seems as though there are two likely reasons why Marvin Musquin wasn’t selected. I think that it is probably because of a budget issue – so the French federation doesn’t have enough money to bring Musquin (among other things) over from America, which is a problem that is quite common. But there are rumours floating around that the reason he will not be present is because he doesn’t want to ride a 450f (or 350). I have a harder time believing this though, as Marvin has raced the 350 at some other events in the past. So he presumably wouldn’t have an issue with riding it again on the world’s biggest stage. It is certainly peculiar – but the story gets slightly stranger, as Musquin is rumoured to be first reserve for the squad.
Interestingly the 2013 Motocross des Nations overlaps with the Australian Supercross series. The Aussie federation is in an interesting position because of this, as some guys have chosen to focus on supercross (like Matt Moss), whereas others have openly stated that they would forfeit the supercross in order to contest the MXdN (like Todd Waters). It does seem likely that the team will consist of Chad Reed, Dean Ferris and Brett Metcalfe; I honestly would not be too surprised to see Waters end up on the team though. It would also be quite interesting, as he is looking to secure a ride in the GP series in the near future, which is undoubtedly why he is so keen to represent his nation at the MXdN.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Simon Cudby/KTM Images