Adam Cianciarulo had a lot of attention surrounding him as he entered his Monster Energy Supercross debut, and understandably so. After all, we [the fans] have been waiting for his debut for a very long time. Finally, Cianciarulo took to the starting gate in Arlington on Saturday night, and he did not disappoint in the slightest.
Strangely, the amount of hype and attention that Adam has received has led some fans and riders to resent him. Now, allow me to go on a little rant here, because this is bizarre. Cianciarulo has not walked around trying to hog the limelight. But, people have flocked to him, because he is good with both the media and fans. Now, any rider could open up, and become an instant fan favourite. However, AC is one of the only riders that actually gets it and is enthusiastic about being at the races.
It is certainly refreshing, as it is rare for a rider to be so great to listen to. In my opinion, this is not something that Adam has to force himself to do; you can tell that he is not putting on an act in front of the fans. Obviously, this was part of the reason that his professional debut was such a hot topic going into Arlington, as many think that his personality is going to help the sport grow, and I would have to agree.
Intriguingly, Blake Baggett is not the biggest fan of Adam. Blake actually did something quite shocking to his rookie teammate at Lake Elsinore in 2013, which put Cianciarulo in danger. It is quite ironic that one of the guys that are worst with the media (Baggett) has an issue with AC. There are plenty of riders that could learn something from the rookie.
Anyway, back to the race. I actually predicted that Adam Cianciarulo was going to win, for a couple of different reasons. Although Adam is a rookie, he just does not seem to be phased by it all. Perhaps this is because he has been around the pro scene for so long? Obviously, he has the talent too – no one can deny that. Adam has trained and rode with Ryan Villopoto over the last few years, so there was no way that he was going to be blown away by the speed out there, which is a problem for some rookies.
Adam made a huge statement when he came out and battled for the top spot in the very first practice in Arlington. Again, it just shows how prepared he was to do battle; it also shows the level that the amateurs are on nowadays. Although he was one of the fastest riders in practice, and he won his heat race, Cianciarulo still did not get swept up in the hype, as he went into the main event looking to put in perfect laps, and see where that puts him.
The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider seemed to stick to that, even when he had Blake Baggett all over him in the main event. It would have been quite easy for him to start panicking when he lost the lead on the opening lap and cased that triple. But, again, he showed a lot of maturity, regrouped and continued to ride within his personal boundaries and clock off consistent laps, which was pivotal in his success.
Sure, some people can argue that he was handed the win. But, part of the race is staying out of trouble and making it to the finish. It is actually quite ironic, you would expect the rookie to crash whilst trying to sprint away from the field, rather than the veteran (Martin Davalos).
When Adam Cianciarulo crossed the finish, he became the first rookie to win his first supercross since Trey Canard did it in 2008. Ryan Dungey did it in 2007, as well, so AC has joined an elite club and will go down in history. I was pumped to see how excited he was following the race. I just feel like we haven’t seen that enthusiasm in a while – you could see how delighted he was, and it was refreshing.
So, Arlington is in the rear-view mirror now, and Adam Cianciarulo is busy preparing himself for Atlanta and the rest of the 250SX East series. It will certainly be different for him heading into this weekend, as he will have to deal with the weight of the red plate, and he will have more expectations on his shoulders. However, he will also have a lot more confidence following his victory, so it works both ways.
Honestly, judging by how well he handled the race on Saturday, I don’t think the pressure will get to him this weekend either. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him top the podium again in Atlanta.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: James Lissimore