Role reversal: Febvre v Cairoli
This weekend at thru USGP is the first glimpse into the future of a potentially impending rivalry between the new world champion and the eight-time world champion!
For the first time since his debut in the MXGP class in 2009, Antonio Cairoli won’t go into a race as the world champion. He no longer has the target on his back. The hunted has become the hunter.
Cairoli undoubtedly believes he is still the best in the class, and if not for injury believes he would have won the title. He will want to fire a warning to Febvre at Glen Helen that he will have a fight on his hands in 2016 to retain his title.
Cairoli is free from championship pressure and can ride all out with nothing to lose – he isn’t even doing the Des Nations as it stands. Of course race fitness may be the only question mark especially in the high temperatures expected in California. But for Cairoli, this is a rare weekend where he isn’t the guy to beat, he has no championship pressure and essentially has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Don’t be surprised to see the Italian legend going all out to win this race and remind Febvre that 2016 won’t be as easy as 2015.
Febvre meanwhile will want to silence the naysayers and show everyone, including the Americans, that he is the best rider in the world right now. He will not want Cairoli beating him in his first race back. But Febvre also has the Nations to consider and will not want to risk injury prior to the biggest race of the year especially with the race being held in France and the French go in as defending champions in front of a huge adoring home crowd.
But this will be the first race for Febvre with the target on his back, Cairoli and the Americans will be out to beat the new world champ, it will be the same next weekend at the Nations and it will be the same next season. So how will Febvre react to his new position as the man everyone wants to beat?
We are about to find out, but the latest French world champ won’t let them take the win without a fight. Cairoli and Febvre might just raise the level of MXGP to it’s highest level yet.
Article: Jonathan McCready