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U.S. team comes up short in bid for Chamberlain Trophy

September 30, 2013

Story and photos by Jeff Kardas

One small tip-over and one gigantic crash added to the factors that prevented the U.S. team from taking home the Peter Chamberlain Trophy at yesterday's 67th running of the Motocross of Nations. In front of an almost unbelievably large and enthusiastic crowd of more than 40,000 screaming fans, Team Belgium took the cup home, leaving the Americans clinging onto second, just ahead of Team Italy.

Consisting of three motos, each pitting different bike classifications together (MX1, MX2 and MX3/Open), the day kicked off with a bang for the opening moto:

Moto 1: MX1/MX2

It was Germany's favorite son Ken Roczen who grabbed the holeshot and began to run away with the moto for the first several laps, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Coming up quickly behind, though, was seven-time FIM World Champion and Italian team leader Antonio Cairoli, who was making quick work of the riders between him and Roczen. A bit further behind, but with a head of steam that was maybe a bit too hot was the USA's Eli Tomac, who was consistently putting down the fastest laps of the race.

After a good battle for the lead between the Italian and German (which the Italian won), Tomac came up on Roczen quickly, forcing the issue that he wanted around sooner rather than later. After closing for a lap or two, Tomac was rubbing elbows with his U.S. motocross nemesis and just before a pass was imminent, the American made a small mistake up a huge hill and launched himself (sans bike) over the top and down the other side.

Incredibly, almost miraculously, Tomac bounced to his feet and ran back to his Honda, eventually working his way back to 16th place. U.S. team captain Ryan Dungey managed sixth after a mediocre start that mired him in a pack of very fast and aggressive international riders.

The U.S. was seventh in points after the first moto.

Moto 2: MX2/MX3

This time it was Tomac and Justin Barcia representing the United States, and things started off well. Running second and third, respectively, after the first lap or two, things were looking up.

As Tomac worked his way up to leader Ken Roczen, it became clear that the German was not going to give up easily. Despite several pushes that pressured Roczen, he was able to not only hold off but put time on the American, barely staying clear to the finish.

There was a big gap between these two and Barcia in third, who was having trouble of his own as Belgium's Clement Desalle put the pressure on and eventually put a move on Barcia that proved to be a key move in the team points situation.

The solid performance by the Americans moved the team to second in points, just 3 behind Belgium, setting up the final moto as the key to the event overall.

Moto 3: MX1/MX3

Dungey joined teammate Barcia for the finale, and things did not start out well. While Dungey's excellent start looked hopeful, it was Barcia who found himself laying on the ground in turn one. The silver lining to this huge dark cloud over the American's chance of winning was that Belgium's Desalle went down as well and was unable to continue the race.

Barcia retarted his race with a twisted bike and began picking off riders in his move to the front. In an uncharacteristic performance, Dungey seemed to be going backward as he moved from the top 2-3 back to seventh at the finish after a couple of off-track excursions cost him positions that also proved critical in the final points tally.

Barcia's rally eventually moved him all the way to 11th, which was truly an impressive result in the challenging conditions. Italy's Antonio Cairoli once again took the overall moto win.

With that final moto's drama in the books, Team Belgium's combined rides put them on top, just three points ahead of the U.S. team and six in front of Italy, whose riders were thrilled to be on the podium.

On the bright side for the Americans, Justin Barcia was deemed the overall winner in the MX3/Open class, but it seemed a small consolation for not bringing home the FIM World Championship Team Trophy.

All things considered, including just plain bad luck and other factors out of the team's control, the U.S. team did admiral in an environment so different than what is familiar. Next year's Motocross of Nations will be held in Kegums, Latvia, which is a bit off the beaten path but will certainly provide for a unique environment for such a historically significant event.

Ryan Dungey was the U.S. Team Captain, competing in the MX2 class for the Americans.

Eli Tomac recovered from a large crash in the first moto.

Ken Roczen rode for the German team.

Justin Barcia won the Open class overall.

L-R: Eli Tomac, Ryan Dungey, Justin Barcia

Eli Tomac chases Ken Roczen in the second moto for MX2.

Team Belgium won the overall at the event, followed by the U.S. team and the team from Italy.

An estimated 40,000 people spectated at the 2013 Motocross of Nations.

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