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Jose Vitor Leme during the second round of the Sioux Falls PBR 25th Anniversary Unleash the Beast.
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LEME RIDES HIS WAY TOWARD NO. 1

Apr 132018

Jose Vitor Leme made winning look easy when he arrived in the United States last October, went 6-for-6 at the World Finals to win his PBR debut, finished the season in the Top 10 and claimed the Rookie of the Year title.

Then January came.

The season-opening event in New York City didn’t go as planned and neither did Chicago followed by only modest success in Oklahoma and California.

Leme finally got his first Top 5 finish in Kansas City and has now put together a trio of Top 5’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Glendale, Arizona, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, including back-to-back second-place finishes.

 

“It’s been great to ride like I did at the Finals,” said Leme, with the help of former rider Paulo Crimber as an interpreter. “I’m feeling more confident with myself and getting used to staying over in the USA.”

 

Leme has ridden nine of his last 12 bulls for an impressive 75 percent average at the past three elite televised PBR events.

 

And four of those nine qualified rides have been for 89 points or more.

 

He’s had a trio of 89-point efforts – including bookending this past weekend’s event with 89-point rides in Sioux Falls – and a stellar 91.5 point ride on Bad Beagle in the Championship Round at last month’s Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque.

 

“I’ve been training really hard and it’s been paying off,” wrote Leme, in a series of text messages.

 

The 21-year-old from Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil, is currently ranked third in the PBR world standings and the only rider ranked among the Top 7 without an event win at the elite televised level of competition.

 

“(I have) my girlfriend with me and she’s helping me a lot,” said Leme.

 

He credits a sense of normalcy in his life away from bull riding for the calming affect that has led to his recent success on the back bulls.

 

“Everything is great,” Leme said. “It feels good to be on trop again. This is where I belong.”

 

Leme will be the lone rider among the Top 35 representing the Monster Energy team, in Tacoma, Washington, this weekend.

 

J.B. Mauney is latest to join a growing list of injured riders that already included Derek Kolbaba, Guilherme Marchi, Chase Outlaw and Gage Gay.

 

According to PBR.com, Dr. Tandy Freeman said Mauney will miss six weeks with T1 and T2 compression fractures in his back.

 

The two-time World Champion from North Carolina felt compelled to address rumors of his retirement with a Twitter message that read, “Ok people yes I was injured that’s part of riding bulls for a living! No I’m not hanging it up and no I’m not wearing a helmet! Thanks for all your wonderful opinions!”

 

It’s not the first time Mauney has been injured.

 

In fact, it’s not even the first time in 2018.

 

Bull riding is widely respected as the most dangerous sport on dirt and, truth be told, the 31-year-old has dealt with injuries more in the past 13 seasons than he has been healthy.

 

Marchi is week-to-week, while Kolbaba is hoping to return in early May.

 

Outlaw and Gay are expected back on the elite level in August.

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