450 Words:  Mini-Des Nations

450 Words: Mini-Des Nations

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There was a minicycle race once upon a time in Germany called the FIM World Cup, or the Mini des Nations, or whatever. The American kids were led by Team Green rider James Stewart, who was heavily favored, at least until it rained! Then he struggled, and a Belgian kid named Kevin Strijbos won. It was a mini glimpse of what was to come in the ongoing rivalry of the USA and Belgium, nothing more, nothing less.

In fact, over the years that little test might have been forgotten if not for the fact that both riders became super-fast professionals, and Stewart an AMA Motocross and Supercross Champion. For his part, Strijbos has won his fair share of GP races and finished runner-up a time or more.

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Strijbos finished ninth overall in his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut.
Simon Cudby photo

But on the morning of the Rockwell Watches Thunder Valley National, sitting together waiting for the first practice was the #7 Suzuki of Stewart and the #922 of Strijbos, who was in Colorado on a racing holiday with his Rockstar Energy Suzuki teammate Clement Desalle. Their paths haven't crossed much since that day of some 14 years ago, but it was cool to see those two bench-racing before the real racing at hand.

It would be easy for us or any other site—either here or in Europe—to make a big deal about this “MX des Nations” preview at Thunder Valley, but we can't really read much into this. Rather than nitpick the results and decipher how Team USA might do it Germany in September against the riders who are almost-best in the GPs (the two best of that field right now, Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings, weren't actually there), we should just appreciate the fact that two men in the thick of their own championship battle abroad—Kevin and Clement—wanted to come here and race, test themselves against other riders, and enjoy a week in America rather than a weekend at home. Both of the Belgians rode hard, Desalle finishing sixth and Strijbos ninth. (Adding to the international flavor of the top ten were South Africa's Tyla Rattray and Scotland's Dean Wilson.)

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Desalle will look to improve upon his fifth overall in Tennessee this weekend.
Simon Cudby photo

Now that they've settled in a bit, I expect both Desalle and Strijbos to better in Tennessee. It's not easy to fly across an ocean to a whole new world and race a whole new system, but both Belgians acquitted themselves well. What would be cool is if one day a Villopoto or Dungey or Stewart went the other way across the ocean and did a little moonlighting over there, treating GP fans to the same intrigue we got to see with Clement and Kevin at Thunder Valley.

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