Of course he will. No one expects him to struggle. But will he be able to win right off the bat? The Amateur All-Star format at the Monster Energy Cup might just create the deepest, most talented field of amateurs ever gathered on the same starting gate. Seriously. Ever.
Cianciarulo will rejoin old mini cycle rivals like Matt Bisceglia and Cooper Webb (three Loretta's titles this year between them), Anthony Rodriguez (also a Loretta's B-Class champ in '12), upstart Shane McElrath, Yamaha prospect Chris Alldredge, new GEICO Honda recruit Jordon Smith, JDR KTM's Chase Bell, fast Aussie Luke Clout, fast Englishman Paul Coats, Team Green standout Thomas Covington, Suzuki's Daniel Baker ... listen, we could go on forever here.
Rare is it that the fastest A and B riders get together in one race, rarer still that you get minicycle grads jumping into the pack at the same exact time. Back in the day, the amateur game was often based around teams ducking and hiding from each other, assigning riders to specific classes so everyone could dominate separately. But at the Monster Energy Cup, there's only one class--and, the races are live on TV, so it promises huge exposure. You gotta' go for it.
And then, at Loretta's, when I was talking to Cianciarulo in his motorhome, the kid couldn't help himself. I've seen AC celebrate wins and suffer through losses--win or lose, he wears his emotion on his sleeve, and takes nothing for granted. He often flips out if he doesn't win, which is not unlike Carmichael at that age (or any other). Would Cianciarulo really be happy with a top five?
"You know me," he said, and he started to smile.