Welcome to our weekly web-exclusive column, Transmoto USA Insider Presented By Lucas Oil. Penned each week by our man on the ground, Transmoto's US Correspondent, Jason Weigandt, USA Insider presents the story-behind-the-stories of the AMA supercross and motocross scene.
Well, Team USA is going to the Motocross des Nations in Belgium to try to win for the eighth-straight time, but as usual, the team selection got a little nutty.
The team features Ryan Dungey and Blake Baggett for the MX1 and MX2 classes. These are obvious choices since these boys are the points leaders in the 450 and 250 classes here. But the MX3 spot goes to Justin Barcia, who will be on a factory Honda 450 over there - even though he races the 250 class here. Mike Alessi is the one getting the shaft on this one, as he's the second-ranked 450 rider in the U.S. right now. But, Mike and his dad Tony are ranked first in bridges burned in the paddock, so the team, picked with considerable influence by Roger DeCoster and Mitch Payton, won't feature them. Mike's team, the MotoConcepts squad, is also a little off-center, with team owner Mike Genova not afraid to butt heads with the established way of doing business. Well, guys like DeCoster and Payton are the establishment, so that doesn't work in this scenario.
At least the Alessi's are learning. Too many times, Mike and Tony have said too much and gotten themselves in trouble. It goes back to Mike's amateur days, for example, when he rode for Honda and seemed like a lock to graduate into GEICO Honda's 250 program. But the story is that Tony took the bike for a quick spin and determined it wasn't fast enough for them, and soon they found themselves riding as privateers!
They then signed with KTM, and Mike was in the 250 MX title hunt all year. Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Ivan Tedesco had a points lead by the finale, though, so Mike tried to take him out to get the points back. Then he stood atop Tedesco's bike to prevent Tedesco from getting back into the race. I doubt Payton ever considered giving Mike a ride in anything since that.
And of course Mike and Tony's days with DeCoster at Suzuki were quite checkered, although they did seem to get along pretty well in a KTM stint last year.
This year, no such drama. When Mike was asked in the Southwick post-race press conference what he bought of the des Nations selections, he fired out a quick "No comment." Boom. Now we know Mike probably does't have anything good to say, but we also know he didn't say it, which is the right way to handle these things.
Unfortunately, one summer of good PR can't erase so many years of negativity. On the outside, Barcia was picked for his own merits. He railed in a few 450 rides here last year, and is a great sand rider, which is key for this year's track at Lommel. But you have to wonder, if Alessi had a better rep, would anyone have even looked at Barcia in the first place?