By: Justin Felisko
February 24, 2017
ST. LOUIS – Claudio Montanha Jr. came within .75 points of winning his share of $1 million dollars last weekend in Arlington, Texas, but PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert strongly believes Montanha may just be within nine months of winning a full $1 million.
“Claude Montana,” as Lambert has quickly nicknamed him, “is the real deal. He can ride every son of a (gun). It don’t matter which way they go or what they do. I have seen a lot of good bull riders, and there is a lot of them here, but Claudio is really special. This guy is special.”
Montanha made his Built Ford Tough Series debut two weeks ago by going 3-for-3 at the Kansas City Invitational after spending a month at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour level (7-for-12).
The 27-year-old then built off his impressive BFTS debut with a 3-for-3 showing at THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, with Lambert in attendance.
Montanha came up short of his bid for the $1 million bonus at THE AMERICAN as his 89-point ride on Bottoms Up was not enough to hold off Sage Kimzey in the Shoot-Out Round.
Regardless, Montanha, who also finished in 10th place at the Frontier Communication’s Iron Cowboy last weekend, has quickly soared up the world standings.
Montanha heads into this weekend’s Bass Pro Chute Out, presented by Cooper Tires, ranked 18th in the world standings after only stepping foot in the United States for the first time two months ago.
This is only the beginning for Montanha, says Lambert.
“As soon as I saw him ride, I thought, ‘Well, that guy is strong,’” Lambert said. “He can ride. He reminded me so much of Silvano (Alves) when he first got here. A bull makes a move and they almost get him out shape, but he is so strong in the core and so balanced riding that he is right back in the middle. It is almost looks like the bull jerks him to the middle. They use the bull’s rhythm to help them instead of being in a fight with them. It is a feel that not many guys have, but when you see it. I think I recognize it.”
Alves – the 2010 Rookie of the Year – finished seventh in the world standings during his first season with a 62.26 percent riding average. He won his BFTS debut at 22 years old in Nampa, Idaho.
He then became the only Rookie of the Year to win the world title the following season.
Lambert said he wouldn’t be surprised if Montanha, who is five years older than Alves was, is in the World Championship conversation by the time the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals come around in November.
“When Silvano got here, I said, ‘This guy is going to be a World Champion,’” Lambert said. “That is like Chris Shivers, Justin McBride, Silvano – the first time you see them, you know. Jess is like that, but Claudio is definitely like that. Claudio will be in contention for it this year, it won’t take him a while to get there.”
Alves said, “He was perfect in his first event on the Built Ford Tough. He covered all three bulls. He is relaxed all the time and not nervous. He is older and has rode in big events in Brazil. He shouldn’t have too much of a problem. He rode in all of the circuits in Brazil. He won’t have too much pressure here like some of the young guys that have come over here.”
Montanha arrived to the U.S. with a very limited resume at PBR Brazil events, but he crafted his trade throughout Brazil for the last eight years.
In fact, his two non-BFTS wins on American soil is more than the one PBR Brazil event he won in three years.
However, Montanha did the most of his Brazil damage in the Liga Nacional de Rodeio, where he won a national title and the historic Barretos rodeo last year. Fellow PBR bull rider Paulo Lima is also a Brazilian LNR champion.
“I have done this for a long time,” Montanha said with Guilherme Marchi translating. “I just tried to be calm and not worry too much about being on the top and stuff like that. I just know I have to get on bulls and get my job done. I didn’t win my first event in Kansas City, but I finished strong.”
It is humbling to be compared to riders such as Alves and McBride so early in his career,” Montanha added.
“For me, it means a lot,” Montanha said. “People compare me with Silvano, Justin McBride and J.B. (Mauney). “Just to be around them is a lot for me.”
Robson Palermo said on Friday morning in St. Louis that Montanha’s quick start has been a little bit surprising, but that Montanha has proven he is ready for this level.
“We didn’t see him much because he competed in different association in Brazil, but he is going to be good. I think his style is better-suited for American bull riding than in Brazil.”
Montanha has drawn Killing Time (3-1, BFTS) for Round 1 on Friday night. Fans can watch the event exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 8:15 p.m. ET.
“I have dreamed to be here since I was a kid, to be with the best,” Montanha said. “I am so proud of these past two weeks. I have adapted to these bulls so fast. I want to keep it going and be strong and make my dream come true.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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