The Day Carmichael Returned - MXoN 2003
News Wednesday 26th September 2012 By Geoff Meyer
While they might have gone home beaten (Team Belgium won) it was that performance of RC that really made europe love him. We had seen him at previous MXoN events, he had won with Team USA in 2000 and he had beaten the best in the world, although he hadn't yet beaten Stefan Everts. On this day in Belgium he did just that and in doing so also helped the MXoN grow-up.
Team USA of Ricky Carmichael, Tim Ferry and Ryan Hughes finished second at the 2003 Motocross des Nations in Zolder. The host nation of Belgium with Stefan Everts, Joel Smets and Steve Ramon -- all three current world champions -- earned the victory. It marked Belgium's 13th win in the prestigious international event.
The King of Belgium was on hand to watch his countryman win the Olympic-like motocross competition. While Belgium won the des Nations it was AMA Champion Ricky Carmichael who walked away with the admiration of the enthusiast European motocross fans. Carmichael laid claim to the title of best motocross rider in the world by chasing down Everts in the final and pulling away to a resounding 11-second victory.
Carmichael was given a hero's send off by the 23,000 fans in Zolder. The rest of the American squad was plagued by bad luck. Hughes, who had looked so strong in finishing second to Carmichael in the first semifinal, was caught up in a crash in the final and broke the chain on his KTM and did not finish. Ferry suffered a serious thumb injury prior to the final, but rode bravely to finish ninth, salvaging second for Team USA.
Finland took third. American hopes were high after Carmichael and Hughes finished first and second in the first semifinal, which qualified the countries for either the A (main) or B final, beating the Belgiums in the process.
Sweden missed qualifying for the A final, but earned 13th place in the Motocross des Nations by winning the B final (consolation race). At the start of the main race, which was 30 minutes plus two laps, it was Everts breaking away to the early lead.
Carmichael had a mediocre start, but quickly began making his way through the 33-rider field. At the halfway mark Carmichael passed Everts and then pulled away to an 11-second victory. Hughes was working his way up through the field when he crashed on lap three and was unable to continue because of a broken chain.
Ferry came from the back of the pack and worked his way up to eighth, but with just four laps remaining he crashed and dropped to 11th. The Floridian remounted and charged back to ninth by the checkered flag to help America hold on to second.
"I did the best that I could today and we had a strong team but perhaps not the best of luck, "said Carmichael. "Personally it was important for me to compete at the Motocross des Nations and also to race Stefan. It took some time to get into motocross again because I have been practicing supercross for the last two months. I came from behind twice to win and that is small consolation. I want to thank the fans because they supported us and showed a lot of respect.
"There is no feeling like winning the Nations and I remember the sensation well from standing on the podium in France; I want it to happen again and I am happy and proud to be over here riding for the team."
Belgium was equally as gracious in victory. Stefan Everts gracious in the defeat at the hands of Carmichael was happy for his teams victory, and unlike James Stewart last year showed respect to his rival.
"This has been a very special day for me," said Everts. "To win the Motocross des Nations in Belgium and in front of the King is a dream come true. I didn't have any problems with my riding in the final. I made the holeshot and rode at my own pace. I'm so happy, but maybe a little bit of me is disappointed that I didn't win the race. It has been great to have the Americans here today. They bring prestige to the event and that is important for European Motocross. Ricky was faster than me today -- hopefully he will return for a rematch next year!"
Team USA Captain Roger DeCoster praised his squad for its excellent showing.
"These were the riders that wanted to be here and despite some tough luck they represented America very well."
Overall Team Results
1. Belgium: Everts (2), Smets (3), Ramon (26)
2. United States: Carmichael (1), Ferry (9), Hughes (32)
3. Finland: Vehvilainen (6), Pyrhonen (10), Aaltonen (25)
4. New Zealand: Coppins (5), Townley (33), King (14)
5. Great Britain: Cooper (7), Sword (30), Noble (13)
6. Japan: Narita (8), Masuda (12), Atsuta (-1)
7. Ireland: Crockard (4), Lyons (23), Steele (24)
8. Estonia: T. Leok (-1), A. Leok (11), A. Leok (16)
9. France: Seguy (19), Martin (17), Aubert (29)
10. Czech Republic: Dobes (31), Kadlecek (15), Zerava (22)