Sometime this morning, Team USA departed for the Motocross of Nations. Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia as well as the support crew of thousands (or what seems like thousands. That’s just because there were only five of us when I went to the MXdN as a mechanic in ’03 and now there are seemingly hundreds of helpers, and that does indeed make me bitter) head on over to get the Chamberlain trophy back home! Lord Alfred be dammed, Team USA definitely has a bit of a chip on its shoulder after the licking it took at Lommel last year.
And the rookie on the team is ready to go. GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, the 2013 250 Lucas Oil Motocross Champion, has been nothing short of bold about helping Team USA win this race. Ever since he was named to the team, Tomac has been saying he’s going to do everything he can to make sure he’s not the reason USA loses.
His main rival this weekend is a familiar one. Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen has won the MX2 class at the MXoN three years in a row (Weege detailed Roczen’s dominance, yes I said dominance, at this race HERE) and Eli knows that although he defeated his rival this summer, Kenny steps it up at this race.
Eli Tomac will compete in his first career Motocross of Nations this weekend. He hopes to take the MX2 crown from Ken Roczen.
Simon Cudby photo
“I think he’s [Roczen] going to be the guy that everyone is shooting for,” Eli told me this past Saturday after finishing his motos for the day. “I think it’s going to be Kenny and I going at it like we did all summer and I’m sure there will be a few other guys; they’re always fast over there. And then you add in the 450s out there with us and it’s going to be hectic for sure.”
At the same time, Tomac seems to understand that if the country needs him to take a consistent result and not put himself at risk going for the win, he’ll do what he has to do.
“It is a team race and you don’t want to go there with your ego. You don’t want to toss it away just for yourself and any glory,” said Tomac on battling with Roczen. He may be a first-timer to the event but he’s already wise beyond his years.
One rider that won’t be there is Jeffrey Herlings, the reigning MX2 World Champion (“I did want to race against him also to compare us, apples to apples,” says Tomac) but there will be some other very fast riders that Tomac and Roczen will have to deal with. Australia’s Dean Ferris and France’s Jordi Tixier are no slouches.
Ken Roczen looks for this fourth straight MX2 win on home soil.
Simon Cudby photo
Still, it’s hard not to think that the MX2 race will come down to Roczen and Tomac like it did this summer. With Team Germany struggling with injuries, Team USA may not need Tomac to beat ‘King” Kenny this Sunday, but they’ll probably need him to stay closer than other riders have in the past.
As far as the track is concerned, Tomac hasn’t watched video on it yet. “I’ll be checking it out on the plane ride over there. I haven’t done a whole lot of research but I’ll get on that. I know it’s going to be hard packed and clay based,” he says.
No matter how much video he watches, no matter how much he says he will play it smart if he has to, there’s no doubt that Tomac’s gunning for Roczen’s MXoN crown. Buckle in and hang on, this upcoming MX2 race should be very exciting.