Prior to the start of the 2014 Grand National Cross Country series, MotoSport-sponsored rider Kailub Russell said defending champions seem to run into bad luck.

Russell, the 2013 GNCC champion found that out himself on the first turn of Round 1 last week at Mud Muckers in Florida when he and teammate Charlie Mullins tangled and both hit the dirt bringing others along for the fall. The teammates not only recovered but Russell eventually grabbed the lead back. Unfortunately he settled for ninth-place after mechanical problems affected his bike.

Kailub Russell tumbles off his bike

Mullins took the win and Russell finished in 14th for the Overall National Championship Standings. Russell isn't a stranger to obstacles as he spent much of his 2013 campaign out of first place and finished in 11th at Park City, KY for Round 5. After that race, he won six of eight races to win the championship.

Clean up on Turn 1!

The 2014 GNCC series boasts one of the deepest fields in recent memory. Along with Russell and Mullins - the 2011 champion, rides Paul Whibley, the 2012 champion who finished in second last week, and Josh Strang, the 2010 champion who grabbed third in Round 1. Whibley endured an injury last season in his quest to defend his 2012 title and eventually underwent back surgery after Round 9 but returned and reached the podium in the final two rounds.

Additionally, Ryan Sipes, a former MotoSport-sponsored Supercross/Motocross standout finished in eighth for his off-road debut. Reports indicate he not only has talent for off-road but the speed and he's considered a threat to the veterans looking to take the crown.

Round 2 of the GNCC series is at the Maxxis General at the Aonia Pass Motocross Park, 3030 Thomson Road in Washington, GA. Pro bikes start at 1 p.m. Sunday.