Not to discount the talent from a large contingent of international riders that will converge on Lakewood, Colorado’s Thunder Valley, but two of the biggest hitters will likely not be competing. Due to a conflict over sponsorship space on the Italian team’s jerseys, it appears unlikely that neither Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross Team’s David Philippaerts nor Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli will ride for their country.
Apparently, discussions with the Italian Motorcycle Federation failed to come to a resolution, meaning that 2008 MX1 champ Philippaerts and reigning MX1 World Champion Cairoli (presently 3rd and 1st in the 2010 standings respectively) will not be on the team. Both riders are available for selection, but both Yamaha and KTM are refusing to allow the two to compete unless sponsor space is made available for each manufacturer’s name on the front of the team jerseys.
With the Italian team being forced to go deeper into the bench, other nations that are sure to have strong teams and give the as-of-yet unannounced U.S. team a strong fight include France (Christophe Pourcel, Marvin Musquin and Xavier Boog), New Zealand (Josh Coppins, Ben Townley and Brad Groombridge), Belgium, Australia (tba), Great Britain (tba) and South Africa (tba).
Is it just me, or is it a sad day when two of the biggest names in motocross aren’t allowed to compete due to conflicts over sponsors? The MX of Nations is essentially the Olympics of the sport; is it no longer enough to have the riders mounted on their respective Yamaha and KTM motorcycles? Is anyone really going to mistake Cairoli’s KTM for anything else? I say suck it up Yamaha and KTM and let the best riders compete.