By: Darci Miller
DENVER – Before the calendar flipped to 2020, Bradley Brittain sat down with some of his buddies to write some goals for the new year.
First on the list?
Win a Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event and make his Unleash The Beast debut.
Just four days into 2020, Brittain could cross that goal off his list.
At the Oakland Classic in Oakland, California, on Jan. 4, Brittain went a perfect 2-for-2 for the first Velocity Tour event win of his career. It was his first Velocity event since 2015, and just the third of his career.
The win earned him a berth at the Chicago Invitational the following weekend and, despite making his premier series debut, Brittain wasn’t too worried.
“I really wouldn’t call it a nervous,” Brittain said. “I would more call it a really excited. I was excited to be there. I mean, shoot, a lot of my buddies are all up there. And when I got there, I really felt at home, really comfortable there. So it really worked out. I had a lot of buddies that were there that helped me out, so it went really smoothly, and that really helped me.”
Brittain says his friends Michael Lane, Matt Triplett, Gage Gay and Taylor Toves made sure he was in the places he needed to be, and gave him advice picking his bull in the championship round.
Because, of course, Brittain made the championship round in his premier series debut.
In Round 1, he rode Uno for 81.75 points to get the monkey off his back and his first UTB ride on the board. In Round 2, Brittain conquered Tulsa Time for 82.75 points, making him one of just four riders to go 2-for-2.
In the championship round draft, Brittain selected Western Skies, but earned a re-ride when the bull hipped himself.
“Thankfully I got on that Hy Test (for the re-ride), and he’s one that everybody is pretty excited to get on when they do draw him,” Brittain said.
Brittain made the 8 seconds on Hy Test for 85 points, giving himself a 3-for-3 weekend and a fifth-place finish overall. He earned 30 world points, and is currently ranked No. 13 in the world standings.
“To be honest, it was really kind of just a blur,” Brittain said in Denver, where he’s competing at the Velocity Tour’s Denver PBR Chute Out at the National Western Stock Show. “Everything’s been going really fast here lately, and just so many opportunities have come my way, and it’s really been truly a blessing to be able to capture those opportunities that have been put in front of me. So it really kicks off the year towards my goals, to make the Finals at the end of the year.”
In the interim, Brittain has other goals he’d like to hit – and another one he’s already crossed off the list.
“My next one was to go ahead and do good on the UTBs, and we knocked that goal out,” he said. “So we’re on the list of knocking goals down this year.”
On Tuesday, Brittain also got the call saying he’d be competing at the Manchester Invitational on Jan. 18-19 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Fans can watch Round 1 on RidePass beginning on Jan. 18 at 6:46 p.m. ET.
Brittain is one of nine replacements/alternates that will be competing in Manchester, along with Cannon Cravens, Junio Quaresima, Lawson Nobbs, Jake Lockwood, Colten Jesse, Dylan Smith, Scottie Knapp and Brady Sims.
They will be replacing Chase Outlaw (shoulder), Dalton Kasel (groin), Marco Eguchi (concussion), Cody Nance (shoulder), Brennon Eldred (hip), Cooper Davis (neck), Rubens Barbosa (foot), Joe Frost (leg), Cliff Richardson (staying in Australia), J.B. Mauney (right shoulder) and Dakota Buttar.
Brittain has drawn Mickey Mouse (1-5, UTB) for Round 1.
Though it’s still early in the season, Brittain’s rise has thus far been meteoric, and he’s been keeping things simple, not getting caught up in the big stage the premier series provides.
“You know, I really haven’t been thinking about expectations, winning, or nothing,” Brittain said. “I’ve just been taking it one bull at a time. We practice all week long for this, so on the weekends it’s time to do what we’ve worked for. Being able to work during the week towards it really helps you to just be loose and cool, and have fun with it on weekends.”
He does, however, have one big goal he’d like to achieve in 2020.
“Really, just get solidified in the Top (35) and stay up there, and just stick to the Unleash The Beast and keep going to those, and make the Finals,” Brittain said. “That’s your end goal.”
BARBOSA RETURNS TO PREMIER SERIES
Also returning to the premier series is Dener Barbosa, who is making his first premier series appearance since Fairfax, Virginia, in September.
Barbosa has struggled with shoulder injuries the last several years, undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder in November of 2018, and missed four months of the 2019 season. He missed a few additional weeks in early June due to an elbow infection.
Barbosa was also in contention for the 2018 PBR World Championship, leading the PBR with a 54.24% riding percentage and finishing just 10 rides behind 2018 World Champion Kaique Pacheco for the most qualified rides on the Unleash The Beast, despite missing five months with a broken right foot. The 2016 PBR Brazil champion also finished No. 8 in the 2017 world standings.
But the injuries were just too much for Barbosa to overcome in 2019, and he finished No. 70 in the world standings.
In 2020, he won the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Jacksonville Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida, to win his berth in Manchester.
Barbosa will take on Big Shot (7-2, all levels) in Round 1.
Also making their 2020 premier series debuts are Keyshawn Whitehorse and Cody Jesus. Whitehorse, who missed the first few events due to a wrist injury, will take on Blackberry Smoke (5-4, all levels), while Jesus matches up against Off The Chain (12-0, all levels).
PACHECO RETURNS AS WORLD NO. 1
The last time Kaique Pacheco was ranked No. 1 in the world, he was standing in the middle of T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, hoisting the PBR World Champion trophy and receiving his gold buckle.
The 2018 World Champion has had a rough go since tearing his left MCL/PCL at the 2018 Velocity Tour Finals. While he didn’t undergo surgery, he slumped badly to start 2019 before ending his season following elbow surgery in June. He went 9-for-29 on the Unleash The Beast in 2019, and finished the season ranked No. 79 in the world.
But the 2015 Rookie of the Year looks to have returned to championship form and, following back-to-back second-place finishes in New York and Chicago to begin 2020, is ranked No. 1 in the world once again. He leads No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira by 30.5 points heading into Manchester.
Pacheco will take on Peep Show in Round 1 (12-5, UTB), while Vieira will match up against Sumo (1-1, all levels).
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