Rolling Thunder is less then 4 days away and the pre-race preparations are already taking place. Pumpkin carving, course prep, course demo, and equipment pick-up are all in full swing.
Beyond all that boring stuff who's racing in the main event and who are you going to cheer for? This post is for the fans. Some of you may question how many cyclocross fans there are in Montana. Trust me there's more then you think. I'll admit it I'm a big fan. That's why I started the blog. So here's a guide to the favorites for Rolling Thunder (in no order).
Brad Morgan - Brad started racing cross last year and has learned quickly. He started off his season with a good 3rd at Moose Cross, and continued with a solid 5th in Helena, 1st in the crit, and 2nd last week in Big Sky. Brad's known for his big engine but I think his cross skills are catching up.
Bob Presta - Bob is the most improved cross racer of the year. He's swept all three Missoula Wednesday Night races and been consistent on the Montana circuit with a 5th, 4th, and 7th. Bob is not afraid of big stages and will not shy away from going out with the leaders. Look for him to be aggressive a near the front.
Frank Gonzalez - Frank won the state championship last year and also placed third in Rolling Thunder. He won impressively in Big Sky and should carry some killer form into the Thunder. Frank should do well on a less technical Thunder course. Also, he seems to thrive on nasty weather. Look for Frank to race near the front. He has an uncanny ability to go into stealth mode and slip his way off the front.
John Curry - John is the leader of the Montana Series with wins in Butte and the Helena Omnium. I think he'd love to come back to Thunder and show a big crowd that he is much faster then his mechanical performance last year. John knows how to race. He can always find the pain cave and at times shows flashes of dominance. Don't be surprised if you see J Curry riding in solo.
Clint Muhfeld - Clint has won Rolling Thunder two years in a row. Enough said. He obviously has what it takes. He hasn't raced this season, but if he shows up to Thunder he'll be near the front. Clint can put it deep in the red. Especially early in a race. Look for Clint to take it out super hard. Three wins in a row would be extremely impressive.
Doug Shryock - Doug Dale got 2nd at last year's Thunder. He usually has a nice Missoula cheering section. Ole Dale is always capable of something special. He says he's got an equipment surprise for the Thunder (I'm scared). Regardless Doug is fun to watch, and a great athlete.
Geoff Proctor - I'm pumped that Geoff is making is Rolling Thunder debut this year. He's been racing super good so far with a 2nd and two 3rds. He obviously knows how to race and how race on big stages. Look for Geoff to either be 1st or 2nd out of the blocks and put the pedal to the floor early. As one of the founding fathers of cyclocross in the US it's a honor to have Geoff at the Thunder.
Bill Martin - Bill posted a nice 5th place last weekend and seems to getting his cross legs underneath him. He's got hometown support and Muleterro support (which counts for alot). Expect to see Bill charging through the ranks after a slow start.
Alex Lussier - One of the toughest racers out there Lussier has continued his strong racing this cross season. He took a great 4th in Butte, and is always dangerous. It the front stays in a group look for Alex to throw down some mean attacks to soften the bunch up. He's a great crosser and loves to get into Davey Jones Locker. Look for him to pick people off towards the end of the race.
Scott Herzig - Over my brief racing history (4 years) I've never seen Scotty Herzig race so well or be so motivated for cross. He tore it up in Butte with a great 3rd place. Seeing that there's nothing super crazy on this year's course expect Herzig to be with the leaders. I'm so happy that he's out there racing and racing well.
Dave Hartman - Dave is one of the best technical riders out there. He focuses soley on cross and is a threat in any race. He's been racing more consistent this year and the hometown crowd should help him. Look to see Dave riding lines and doing things that other racers aren't.
Tomas Dombrovsky - Like Bob, Tomas is another one of those much improved cross racers. He might not quite make the lead group but I wouldn't be surprised if he did. He's racing extremely well and looks to be on his best ever cross season.
Toby Meirerbachtol - Toby has been impressive in his Seattle debut. After a wild Star Crossed he backed it up by winning his second cross race in the 3's. He upgraded for the following week and placed 13th. He's a big time rider and rides well on the big stage. Look for Toby to be giving it his all somewhere near the front.