Ken Roczen finally earned his epic first victory following back to back years of horrific injuries that left both arms surgically repaired. It was like seeing an 800lb gorilla lifted off his back but this road to victory was not a short one. Let’s not forget Roczen almost got it done multiple times, most notably in Dallas last year. Roczen’s struggled with the Epstein Barr Virus in 2019 and some wondered if he was using the illness as a cover up and was really just a beaten man. Multiple defeats can crush a competitor’s psyche. After his poor performance during the season opener it looked like he was still struggling with illness. Fortunately for Roczen and his fans it was as simple as poor setup.
(Ken Roczen in finally a winner again in Monster Energy Supercross, can he be a champion too?)
Roczen addressed the problems on Instagram following the race, explaining he has been running a very stiff setup since the 2017 crash. A stiffer setup prevents foot peg dragging and harsh rebounds that caused the crash that destroyed his left arm. Turns out his setup was stiffer than the much larger Malcom Stewart. Even his competitors have to respect the journey Roczen has been on since nearly losing his arm. Adding to that in 2018 his other arm was gruesomely chewed up in the rear wheel of Cooper Webb’s motorcycle. What made that crash more frustrating was the personal beef that triggered the Webb vs Roczen crash. A social media beef spilled onto the racetrack (Webb is dating Roczen’s Ex-girlfriend). Now he can put all that behind him and focus on getting that oh so elusive Monster Energy 450 Supercross championship.
(Pressure is on Eli Tomac, as he is falling behind, much like the last three seasons)
While Roczen is fulfilling a comeback of historic proportions his rival Eli Tomac is looking very average. Typically Tomac is up and down, but shows flashes of speed, unfortunately he hasn’t shown speed this year. At the opener he suffered from arm pump, but in St. Louis the dirt is very predictable and should have served him well. The dirt at Anaheim is tricky and often causes riders to ride tight, thus causing arm pump. The dirt in St. Louis has been very good to Eli in the past and seemed like the perfect opportunity to get his mojo back. Unfortunately his ride at St. Louis was very basic and if not for Zach Osborne absolutely smashing anyone who pulled even with him, Tomac might have been stuck in the back half of the top ten. He did sneak up to 4thby the end but this isn’t what is expected of Tomac.
(Can AC clean up his mistakes and turn the speed into wins?)
Adam Cianciarulo has been the fastest 450 pretty much every time he hits the track, but he is struggling with mistakes. Adam must have forgot about the time Zach Osborne blasted him in practice tearing his ACL a few years ago. Adam passed Osborne and left the door somewhat open, but Osborne was fighting like a wounded animal, looking to attack anyone near him. Osborne gave Adam the business and it really messed up Adam’s rhythm. He was able to recover and work back up to a solid 4th before a rookie mistake cost him three spots. Adam crashed on the last lap, something that just doesn’t fly in the 450 class. There are too many fast guys taking advantage of his mistakes.
(For the first time since Glendale 2019 Webb looked average, can he overcome this illness?)
Defending champion Cooper Webb was nowhere to be found, as his illness from A1 progressively worsened throughout the week. 2020 could be the year of the flu, looks like red plate holder Justin Barcia has also contracted the virus. He was able to fight through for 2nd, but can he be ready for next week?
Heading into next week the series is wide open, but both Webb and Tomac are in desperate need of good finishes. I know it’s still early, but giving your competitor’s confidence and momentum early could prove fatal for their championship hopes. The same type of momentum Webb used to win last year could carry someone else to glory in 2020. Can Webb get healthy and can Tomac find his speed? We shall see, we still have 15 more rounds of action.