The "Olympics of Motocross" converges on Maggoria, Italy on Saturday and Sunday as teams from around the world send their best and fastest riders to compete in the 70th running of the Motocross of Nations for the Chamberlain Trophy, and of course bragging rights, as the world's finest Motocross team.
Riders representing nearly 40 countries take on one of the most famed tracks in Europe and it's here, 30 years ago, that the United States "Dream Team" of David Bailey, Johnny O'Mara and Rick Johnson decimated the field in the midst of a 13 year winning streak. This year Team USA attempts to end a four year drought as famed rider and manager Roger DeCoster has tapped Cooper Webb, Alex Martin and Jason Anderson to bring home the honors for the USA.
Qualifying starts on Saturday and the gates drop on Sunday three times as each class - MXGP (450cc), MX2 (250cc) and Open classes - races against the other classes. On Team USA, Webb, who won the 250 class Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship last month and is jumping to the 450 class next year, tackles the MXGP class, while Martin, runner-up to Webb in Motocross, sticks with the 250, and Anderson rides a 450 in the Open class.
Cooper Webb went (2-6) in the 2015 Motocross of Nations - Photos Courtesy of MXGP.com
Scoring for the Motocross of Nations is a bit different than traditional Motocross. The first place winner receives one point instead of 25, two points for second-place and so on. The worst score of the three races between the riders is dropped and the lowest combined total score wins. Host country France beat USA by two points in 2015. Webb raced in the Open Class last year but a stall in his second race ended the team's hopes for the overall win.
Overall, Justin Barcia won the MXGP class in 2015, Jeremy Martin took second for the MX2 class and Webb finished second in the Open class behind Romain Febvre, who swept his two races for France.
Team USA dominated in the 1980s and early 90s and started another win streak in 2005 that ended in 2012 when a Ken Roczen-led German team took the win. France is looking for their third straight win but without the services of Marvin Musquin, who helped his team last year. Musquin took third-place for the 2016 Motocross season in his first year on a 450 bike and was not asked to ride for Team France this year. Roczen, the 450 class Motocross Champion is not racing for Germany, either.
Despite the absence of some big names, it won't be easy for Team USA as Febvre, the dominating rider in last year's MXoN and the 2015 Motocross World Champion (MXGP) in the MXGP class, returns with France, Jeffrey Herlings who wrapped up the 2016 MXGP MX2 class Championship fights for The Netherlands and eight-time MXGP Champion Tony Cairoli, who finished second in the MXGPs this year, helps the host country. Tim Gajser, the 2016 MXGP champion, was expected to lead Team Slovenia but a practice crash this week keeps him out dampening his countries chances of winning. Check out the complete list of countries and their riders on Transworld Motocross.
For some history on the Motocross of Nations which is also known as the Motocross des Nations check out a previous post on the MXoN. The Motocross of Nations returns to the United States for the first time since 2010 next year at Glen Helen.
Tune into MXGP-TV to watch the 2016 MXoN online (you'll need to set up an account) or the CBS Sports Network at 7 a.m. EST on Sunday.
2015 Motocross of Nations Results
- France (14)
- USA (16)
- Belgium (56)
- Estonia (66)
- Switzerland (67)
- Netherlands (72)
- Australia (77)
- New Zealand (92)
- Germany (97)
- Austria (103)