Only MXGP class rider Jason Anderson could really claim to be a legitimate first-choice rider for the team – Anderson rode for Team USA in Italy in 2016 and won one of his races there.
The national 450cc and 250cc class champions in the US, Kawasaki pair Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo, had been tipped as possible first-choice candidates for the team, but the Kawasaki team made the decision to make their men unavailable.
But, even without these two riders, the Americans do still have winning potential.
Nicknamed “El Hombre”, Anderson was the 2018 AMA supercross champion in the premier 450cc class.
Open Class rider Zach Osborne has raced the MXoN before, as a member of Team Peurto Rico at Donington Park in England in 2008, where he finished 6th and 24th in his two Open Class rides and helped Puerto Rico to finish 19th overall (he’s pictured here in action at the MXoN that year).
But for the team’s MX2 class rider, Justin Cooper, this will be his first trip to the MXoN.
He earned his first career win in the US 250cc championships this year and secured third in the final 250 championship standings.
With the reshuffling that’s been forced upon some of the other countries, it perhaps gives the US team a ring of confidence.
Now that two of the top French choices in their original team are now out (Romain Febvre due to injury and Tom Vialle over a tiff about logos) along with US-based Marvin Musquin and Dylan Ferrandis also not committing to the MXoN this year, it seriously dilutes the chances of defending MXoN champion Team France.
With no Clement Desalle for Belgium and no Antonio Cairoli for Italy, and Ben Watson and Max Anstie out of Team GB, all the teams that had a chance of victory are faltering and this leaves the US primed to take on the Dutch. And, remember, even the favoured Dutch don’t have a fully fit Jeffery Herlings.
It seems it’s all falling into the place for the USA, who already have a good chance to break their seven-year drought and win the MXoN again, for what will be a (new) record 23rd time.
They already hold the record as the best country in MXoN history with their 22 outright wins and perhaps now as underdogs, they’ll again stun the Europeans, just as they did that first time in 1981 with Donnie Hansen, Danny la Porte, Johnny O’Mara and Chuck Sun.
“One of my biggest dreams as a racer was to be as part of Team USA and now for it to come true for a second time, it’s awesome,” said Osborne.
“I’ve raced in European sand before and I sort of know the gist of it. We have a really good plan with training and riding and settings from the European teams to go there and make a good push for it.
“We’ll go over early and do a lot of testing to make some changes to the settings that will do good in the sand. Then we’ll adapt to the time change and the food and just settle down into a routine.
“As far as sand riding technique, it’s just something you have to go and learn for yourself. We have really good support from Husky in Austria to get sand settings right,” said Osborne.
“Obviously there is a lot of negativity from the doubters who wonder why we are even going.
“The MXoN is a hard event to win, but we have to go.
“It can be a pretty intimidating experience. There’s a lot of fans just as passionate about their team as we are about ours. They can get pretty rowdy. We just have to block out the haters and go in there to do our job and be good ambassadors for our country.”
Anderson is also excited to go.
“I love the event. The event is fun and obviously we have pride for our country and want to do well,” said Anderson. “I think we’re going to have our hands full with the conditions, but I think all three of us are ready to go over early and prepare the best we can and have a good shot at doing well.
“I’ll be there with my buddies and enjoy this Euro trip. I think if we were to stay at home in Florida or California and ride to prepare for the event, it would be a little harder. The new scenery will help to keep us motivated,” said Anderson.
“I feel I’m pretty decent in sand. No matter what we’ll put our best foot forward. I think I’ll be good, but we’ll just have to find out.”
And find out we will, in just two weeks’ time.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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