Story and photos by Jeff Kardas
ASSEN, Netherlands — The U.S. Motocross of Nations team placed sixth overall in the 2019 edition of the FIM Motocross of Nations.
The team started Sunday third in the event standings, and the Americans were ready to do battle. Justin Cooper (MX2) and Jason Anderson (MXGP) were in good shape with their gate picks for Race 1. Despite the very wet sandy racing surface, they seemed as good as anyone to pull out top finishes. Weather conditions at the start of the day were rainy with temperatures in the 50s and a brisk wind.
It was not to be, though, as the teammates came together just after the first turn, putting them both on the ground in a heap. It was Cooper who got the worst of it, tearing the clutch lever from his Yamaha’s handlebar and injuring his hand. Anderson was not unscathed, but got going again quickly. Both riders struggled to get through the pack in very, very difficult conditions against stiff competition. Anderson finished 17th and Cooper 25th. This was a race to be forgotten.
Race 2 was only slightly better, as Zach Osborne (Open) lined up with Cooper. With his injured hand, Cooper was behind the eight ball even before the gate dropped. Thankfully, Osborne pulled off a solid start and was in the front of the group for most of the race. While the front pack of Glenn Coldenhoff of the Netherlands (eventual overall winners and winner of the MXGP division), and Latvia’s Pauls Jonass pulled a gap to the rest of the field, Osborne scored a quite impressive fifth place. Cooper crossed the finish line in 29th, which would be the team’s worst performance on the day.
The final race pitted the MXGP class with the Open Class — and for the first time Osborne and Anderson together. At this point the track was a legitimate challenge for every rider good enough to make it this far. Steady rains gave way to more wind and even cooler temperatures than earlier, which led to many riders ditching their goggles during the course of the 30-minute-plus-two-lap race.
It was again Netherlands’ Glen Coldenhoff who ran away with the victory, with his teammate Jeffrey Herlings not far behind. This was all it would take to ensure that the home team would claim its first FIM Motocross of Nations title in the race’s history. Ultimately, Osborne ended up 13th overall and Anderson eighth, with the American squad finishing sixth in the overall standings.
The top honors of course went to Team Netherlands, followed by teams from Belgium and the United Kingdom. The 2020 FIM Motocross of Nations takes place St. Jean d’ Angely, France — a track that couldn’t be any more different than the man-made sand track from this past weekend at TT Circuit Assen.