Words by Micheal Antonovich
Photos by Brendan Lutes
The 2011 Monster Energy Motocross of Nations took place for the first time in over ten years at St. Jean D'Angely, France, an Eastern town that lays inland of the Atlantic Ocean. A previous hosting venue, were the American team of Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Hughes, and Travis Pastrana were victorious, the rocky and hard pack soil has been likened to Pennsylvania's Steel City. With multiple lines carved into the hills and rain showers taking place in each of the three motos, all the skills the top racers in the world possess were tested. After winning all three of Saturday's qualifying motos, the American team of Blake Baggett (MX2), Ryan Dungey (MX1), and Ryan Villopoto (MX3), were heavily favored to win yet again, but a thrilling day filled with triumph and disappointment made it look like it was anyone's day to shine.

MOTO ONE MX1/MX2
Australian team captain Chad Reed led the mix of 450cc and 250cc bikes into the first turn, claiming the holeshot and early lead. In the early portions of the race, Russian rider Evgeny Bobryshev and American Ryan Dungey battled for the runner-up spot, with German Ken Roczen just behind the two. Both eventually got around Bobryshev, whose team manager said that he did not expect the recently injured rider to keep the rapid pace for the entire day. Dungey would trail Reed as they picked their way through lapped riders and a midrace rainstorm, both ditching their goggles near the halfway mark. As Reed began to pull away from Dungey, Roczen began to reel in the second place rider and ultimately made a pass, a finish that made him the highest placing MX2 rider of the weekend.
For a moment, the British duo of Tommy Searle and Dean Wilson held the overall lead, as Searle's fourth place finish and Wilson's ninth made them the only two riders of the same team in the top ten. Matt Moss' nineteenth would offset Reed's win, Daniel Sigel's 28th would affect Roczen's runner up finish, and Baggett's seventeenth would be the dropped score for the US.
Italy's Antonio Cairoli would have issues from the very beginning, crashing on the inside berm of the first turn and again just a few laps later, tearing the handlebars from the top of the triple clamp assembly and ending his first moto of the day. Italy's bad luck would not end there, as MX2/Lites rider Alessandro Lupino would also DNF, effectively knocking the Italian team out of contention.

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RESULTS
1. Chad Reed
2. Ken Roczen
3. Ryan Dungey
4. Tommy Searle
5. Tyla Rattray
6. Tanel Leok
7. Jonathon Barragan
8. Marvin Musquin
9. Dean Wilson
10. Joel Roelants
11. Christophe Pourcel
12. Rui Goncalves
13. Yoshitaka Atsuta
14. Annti Pyrhonen
15. Filip Neugebauer
16. Marvin Van Daele
17. Blake Baggett
18. Priit Ratsep
19. Matt Moss
20. Jeremy Seewer

MOTO TWO MX2/MX3
Gautier Paulin snagged the holeshot to the delight of the French masses, but was quickly be passed by Jeffery Herlings of the Netherlands. Herlings held the lead while Paulin stayed occupied with Ken Roczen, who again battled against the bigger machines aboard his small bore KTM and ran as high as second at one point. After a rock smashed into his affixed goggle roll-off canister, Roczen had issues with vision for the remainder of the race and ultimately finished in fourth. After Paulin had gotten by Roczen, he set off after Herlings while the rain began to fall and made the pass for the lead at roughly the halfway point. Coming through the pack in a fury was American Ryan Villopoto, who gave the better gate choice to teammate Blake Baggett and was forced to come from the outside of the gate. Villopoto, who was clearly the fastest rider on the track, had come from eighth to third in just a matter of minutes and was decimating the gap built by Paulin and Herlings. As the final 10 minutes began, Villopoto was nine seconds down on the leaders, but with his fastest times coming in the final laps he was able to make his way into third place and was down just .389 seconds off of second place Herlings.
Baggett, who commented that the circuit was the most technical he had ever ridden, was out of the top twenty momentarily after tipping over in the mud, and spent a substantial amount of time to re-fire the 250. He would score his second seventeenth finish of the day.
France's MX2 rider, Marvin Musquin, scored an 11th in his final moto of the day, and that combined with Paulin's win put the French team into lead as they prepared for the final moto of the day.

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RESULTS
1. Gautier Paulin
2. Jeffery Herlings
3. Ryan Villopoto
4. Ken Roczen
5. Kevin Strijbos
6. Gareth Swanepoel
7. Brett Metcalfe
8. Davide Guarneri
9. Carlos Campano
10. Arnaud Tonus
11. Marvin Musquin
12. Joel Roelants
13. Marcus Schiffer
14. Brad Anderson
15. Luis Corriea
16. Martin Michek
17. Blake Baggett
18. Aleksandr Tonkov
19. Jose Antonio Butron
20. Matthias Walkner

MOTO THREE MX1/MX3
When the final moto of the day screamed down the straightaway, it was Russian standout Evgeny Bobryshev in full control. The early laps were chaos, as the favorite riders seemed to have mishaps. Villopoto went down after taking the lead from Bobryshev, directly in front of teammate Dungey. Chad Reed, while running in sixth behind fellow Aussie Metcalfe also fell, dropping a handful of positions to ninth. And, in what may be the pivotal moment of the day, France's Christophe Pourcel suffered a mechanical issue and DNF'ed just after passing Ryan Dungey, loosening France's grip on the point lead.
Reed, after his fall, remounted and made his way back to seventh, and with Metcalfe's 10th place finish, the Australian team finished on the podium for the first time. Pourcel's DNF finished the French team off, as it would be overshadowed by Paulin's win and eighth place finish. The trio of Musquin, Pourcel, and Paulin claimed second in their homeland.
After recomposing himself, Villopoto once again took the lead from the Russian, and dominated for the rest of the moto with Dungey in second place. On the final lap, Villopoto had a lead of sixteen seconds built on Dungey, but slowed dramatically in the final corners and allowed Dungey to ride over the finish line, finishing one-two and giving the United States their seventh straight MXoN win.

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RESULTS
1. Ryan Villopoto
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Tyla Rattray
4. Tommy Searle
5. Davide Guarneri
6. Evgeny Bobryshev
7. Chad Reed
8. Gautier Paulin
9. Jeffery Herlings
10. Brett Metcalfe
11. Kevin Strijbos
12. Tanel Leok
13. Arnaud Tonus
14. Jonathon Barragan
15. Brad Anderson
16. Rui Goncolaves
17. Yoshitaka Atsuta
18. Gareth Swanepoel
19. Carlos Campano
20. Marvin van Daele
OVERALL TEAM RESULTS

1. USA
2. France
3. Australia
4. Great Britian
5. Belgium
6. South Africa
7. Germany
8. Spain
9. The Netherlands
10. Estonia