The biggest event of the year in Motocross is now just days away. After last year’s event was canceled due to Covid-19, the Motocross Des Nations is back. The 2021 edition of the historic event is taking place at the Mantova circuit in the Italian Province of the same name. While this year’s running is not loaded with talent as in years past, there is still a lot of world-class talent looking to take home the Chamberlain Trophy. The Dutch will have their work cut out for them in their first-ever Des Nations title defense.
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MXdN for Dummies
This is for those that are unfamiliar or need a refresher on how Des Nations is structured. Each country participating sends a team of three riders. A 450 rider labeled as MXGP/MX1, a 250 rider labeled MX2, and then an Open rider, which can run either bike. More often than not, Open class riders are simply just another 450 rider, but there are Open riders on 250s here and there. All riders will also be designated a number based on last year’s (in this case two years ago) performance by their country. For instance, the Dutch riders will have one, two, and three, Belgium four, five, and six, etc.
Qualifying for the event is on Saturday, where each class gets a 20-minute Moto, and the best-combined team finish gets top gate selection for Sunday. For the day of the event on Sunday, there are once again three races, but each class races twice. Moto 1 is MXGP and MX2, Moto 2 is MX2 and Open, and Moto 3 is MXGP and Open. The winner is determined by the best-combined finish, with the caveat being each nation’s worst finish gets dropped. The Dutch enter as the defending champion, breaking a run of five straight wins for the French.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still happening, a number of key players opted to not make the trip to Italy for this weekend. None bigger than the United States, the 22-time winner of the event. Although a team of Justin Barcia, R.J. Hampshire, and Chase Sexton was all but set, travel restrictions put in place at the beginning of the month were the nail in the coffin. Another big opt-out are the Australians. Although they have never won the event, they have been loaded with talent in the last two decades, now more than ever. Additionally, the only AMA rider running is Enzo Lopes for Team Brazil.
A number of GP title contenders also have bowed out of the event. Including defending GP Class World Champion Tim Gajser of Slovenia. On top of recently breaking his collarbone, Solvenia isn’t a powerhouse so to say, so it is a smart move he is taking a week off. Another big name taking the extra week off is Romain Febvre, a three-time winner of the event for France. The 2015 World Champion is right in the mix for the 2021 title, sitting just four points behind leader Jeffery Herlings. Another Frenchman not in is MX2 points leader Maxime Renaux, who currently has an over 70 point cushion out in front. Additionally, Jorge Prado is not making the trip for Team Spain.
Chamberlain Trophy Contenders
Rider No. Name – Team/Bike – Class
No. 109 Dylan Wright – Honda Canada GXR Fox Racing – MXGP
No. 110 Jacob Piccolo – SKY Racing KTM – MX2
No. 111 Tyler Medaglia– Callus Moto GasGas – Open
Notable Omissions: Jess Pettis
After skipping out on the 2019 Des Nations, the Canadians are back and are sneakily sending a solid squad. Wright has only been on a 450 for two years but already has as many MX1 National Motocross titles in the Canadian Triple Crown Series. The young Piccolo enters Des Nations coming off an MX2 title in the Great White North. At 18 years old he is the youngest Canadian to ever be selected for Des Nations.
Rounding out the rear is the elder statesman Medaglia. After taking all of last year off, he is now coming off a solid year in Canada. In a psychotic move, Medaglia also ran the International Six Days Enduro for Canada earlier this month as well. While Canada may not be the outright favorite, with some of these opt-outs, they could make some noise.
No. 46 Antonio Cairoli – Red Bull KTM- MXGP
No. 47 Mattia Guadagnini – Red Bull KTM – MX2
No. 48 Alessandro Lupino – MRT Racing Team KTM – Open
Notable Ommison: Ivo Monticelli
The home squad has had a rough go these last few Des Nations. Nearly a year after the fact, the Italians were outright disqualified for the 2018 Des Nations for a fuel violation. Then two years ago at Assen, Italy had a beyond brutal outing. Without Cairoli, they managed just one finish inside the top 10 and finished 16th in the standings. With the big news of Cairoli retiring after this year, the Italians have brought out a monster squad to try and win for the first time since 2002.
On top of his looming retirement, Cairoli is also entering this weekend at under 100-percent after a qualifying crash just days ago. With that in mind, Guadagnini and Lupino will have to bring their A-game to make up for any shortcomings that may happen. If Cairoli can pull through, however, this squad has as good a chance to win as anyone else. Additionally, if Cairoli didn’t have his qualifying crash, they may have been the outright favorite.
No. 19 Max Nagl – HAAS Racing Team Husqvarna – MXGP
No. 20 Simon Laengenfelder – Diga Procross GasGas Factory Racing – MX2
No. 21 Henry Jacobi – JM Honda Racing – Open
Notable Omission: Ken Roczen
Germany typically puts together some strong Des Nations squad and 2021 is no different. Nagl, who was on the 2013 winning team, is the de facto captain here. Although no longer running MXGP at 34-years-old, he is still running at a competitive level. The veteran has kept busy running some National races in Europe. Even at his age, he is a solid option, even in the absence of Roczen, who was willing to go this year.
Laengenfelder name is only topped by one Thomas Kjer Olsen of the Danish team. Very hard to compete with a rider whose name is T.K.O. Currently, Laengenfelder sits 12th in the MX2 standings in what is his second full-time season. Jacobi meanwhile is in his second season in the MXGP class. The Honda rider has had a so-so season to this point, sitting 15th in points. All things considered though, this team is pretty solid.
No. 13 Benoit Paturel – Honda SR Motoblouz – MXGP
No. 14 Tom Vialle – Red Bull KTM – MX2
No. 15 Mathys Boisrame – F&H Kawasaki – Open
Notable Omissions: Dylan Ferrandis, Romain Febvre, Marvin Musquin, Maxime Renaux
No team has been gutted harder to opt-outs or otherwise than the French. Pair any of the first three omissions with either Renaux or Vialle, and it may have been game over. Musquin was initially named the French MXGP rider, but a case of Covid-19 knocked him out. In his place is the veteran Paturel, who won with France as the MX2 entry in 2016. Since moving up to the MXGP class in 2018, he has never completed more than nine rounds.
Vialle finally gets the call to serve on the team as this year’s MX2 rider. He was all but set to do so in 2019 but was kicked off for the heinous act of having a Red Bull logo on a hat. Just in case if you were wondering how uptight the French Moto Federation is. With no other real options in the MXGP class for the Open slot, they have tabbed MX2 rider Boisrame for the roll. He currently sits 10th in the standings. Will the French contend for a podium with this squad? More than likely yes, but an outright win would require a miracle.
Team Great Britain
No. 7 Ben Watson – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team – MXGP
No. 8 Conrad Mewse – Hitachi KTM Racing Team- MX2
No. 9 Shaun Simpson – SS24 KTM MXGP – Open
Notable Omissions: Max Anstie, Dean Wilson
The Brits came to the Netherlands with an under-the-radar team and respectably finished in third. This year they bring a team to Mantova that absolutely feels better. Watson, who occupies the spot his brother Nathan Watson took in 2019, has had a solid rookie year on the YZ-450. Currently sitting in 10th in the MXGP points, with a top-five Overall at Oss. Mewse is currently the highest placed British MX2 rider, albeit 17th in points, but that is largely due to missing a large chunk of rounds. Simpson is the lone returnee from the 2019 squad, who ended up third among all Open class riders that year. All things equal, anything worse than a fifth would be a disappointment, this team has some talent.
No. 4 Jeremy Van Horebeek – SDM Corsa Beta – MXGP
No. 5 Liam Everts – Hitachi KTM Racing Team- MX2
No. 6 Brent Van Doninck – Team Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing – Open
Notable Omissions: Kevin Strijbos
One of the bluebloods of this event looks to get back to the top of the mountain for the first time since 2013. They look to do so with the fourth generation rider with their MX2 entry Everts. His father Stefan Everts won this event five times for Belgium in his storied career while this is his son’s first crack. The man leading the Belgian charge once again is Van Horebeek, who went 6-6 in the 2019 edition of Des Nations.
Worth noting that he is riding on a Beta, which ironically enough has not given him the best of results this year. Absolutely something worth monitoring this weekend. For Van Doninck, this is his third trip to Des Nations for the Belgians, but the first time since 2017, where he went 17-24. A quality squad, that might just do better than expected.
No. 1 Glenn Coldenhoff – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team – MXGP
No. 2 Roan Van De Moosdijk – F&H Kawasaki – MX2
No. 3 Jeffery Herlings – Red Bull KTM – Open
Notable Omissions: Calvin Vlaanderen
The defending champions come into 2021 sitting pretty. One note is that Herlings and Coldenhoff swapped spots. This so the latter can get a longer break in between his Motos. Coldenhoff has been the alpha dog for the Dutch in these last two Des Nations going 1-1-1-1 in his last four Motos. The concern for this year is he has been very hot and cold and has not heated up before Des Nations like in years past.
Herlings has cast any doubt about his shoulder injury away in recent weeks. He has been scorching hot and just took the MXGP points lead despite missing three Motos. He has been good, not great at Des Nations historically, but he should be fine here once again. Van De Moosdijk just recently came back to the MX2 scene, missing a number of rounds with a hand injury. If Cairoli ends up taking the event off, the Dutch instantly become overwhelming favorites to go back to back.
2021 MXdN Podium Picks
Bronze: Team Belgium
Silver: Team Netherlands
Gold: Team Italy
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