Their look on the podium said everything.
Sullen and dejected, Team USA took third in a hotly contested 2016 Motocross of Nations on Sunday in Maggiora, Italy that went down to the final laps as three countries fought to the very end, including the Americans who were in line to win for the first time since 2011 but came up short once again.
Belgium struck first jumping to the top spot thanks to Kevin Stribos and Jeremy Van Hoebeek's (3-5) Race 1 performance which featured the MXGP (450) class and the MX2 (250) class riders. Cooper Webb (MXGP) and Alex Martin (MX2), riding for the Americans went (4-9) - good enough for second as France, the two-time defending Chamberlain Trophy winner started the day in third thanks to Antonio Cairoli's second place performance.
Three classes compete in the MXoN - MXGP (450cc), MX2 (250cc) and Open classes - with each class racing against the other classes. First-place gets one point, second place gets two points and so forth. The worst score of the three races is dropped and the country with the lowest combined total wins.
Bad luck desperately tried preventing Jason Anderson from competing as the American broke his foot on Saturday during qualifying. But misfortune reared its ugly head at the end of Race 2 featuring the MX2 and Open classes. Anderson brushed off the pain and discomfort of his broken foot to grab the holeshot and lead wire-to-wire fending off a pesky Jeffrey Herlings from The Netherlands to win by six seconds.
But in a scene only Hollywood could conceive, as Anderson celebrated his victory after crossing the checkered flag, Japan's Chihiro Notsuka (a lapper!) vaulted off the finish line jump and landed on Anderson. The collision was brutal and not only knocked Anderson unconscious it knocked him out of Race 3. Thankfully, Anderson did not suffer any career or life threatening injuries. Check out the video below:
Anderson posted the following on Instagram: "We've got everything checked out and I'm going to be OK. It's just a bit of a bummer I couldn't get out there in the last moto to help Team USA battle for the win."
The gritty performance put Team USA into first-place with one race remaining (MXGP and Open classes) but with Anderson unable to ride it was left up to Webb to bring home the victory. Webb didn't need a win, in fact his battle against Romain Febvre of France for fifth was the battle for overall victory but with just a lap and half to go, with Webb in front and closing in on Tommy Searle of Great Britain in fourth, he cross rutted and crashed. Check out the video:
With Webb out that put The Netherlands in first-place but Febvre, who dominated the MXoN last year for France, wasn't finished. A last lap pass for fourth-place on Searle gave France the necessary points for their third-straight Motocross of Nations victory. The Netherlands took second losing their chance to bring home that country's first ever Chamberlain Trophy by one point. Webb finished 10th and Team USA finished third overall with 33 points.
A gut-wrenched Webb said in a post-race news conference that he was disappointed, the team never gave up and they'll learn from it before adding "I'm going to not live this one down for a long time." He later apologized to America on his Instagram account and also commented: "I will remember this for the rest of my career but one thing is guaranteed.... I WILL be back. This was the hardest thing I've faced in my entire career."
The United States hosts the 2017 Motocross of Nations at Glen Helen. You can probably guess who fills at least one of those spots next year for Team USA.
2016 Motocross of Nations Results:
- France (29)
- The Netherlands (30)
- USA (33)
- Belgium (36)
- Italy (44)
- Switzerland (44)
- Great Britain (73)
- Australia (76)
- Estonia (93)
- Canada (95)
Written By: AndrewT