Ben Berden in full Raleigh kit, on a Raleigh RXC Pro, but not quite signed by Raleigh yet. ©Tim Westmore

Ben Berden in full Raleigh kit: will he take the win Tuesday? ©Tim Westmore

This time last year, Raleigh was handing over big prize money to Russell Stevenson and Kathy Sherwin for their wins at Midsummer Night Cyclocross, along with contracts for Stevenson and Jenni Gaertner for the 2011 season. This year, the field is a bit more stacked, and entries without contracts include both the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s bronze medalists from this year’s National Championships.

Nicole Duke and Jonathan Page are currently registered for the race with blank spots next to their current teams: could this mean they’re vying for the Raleigh/Clement team spot? Page has his own sponsors like Blue and ENVE, but is still looking for a title sponsor and just heard about the race two weeks ago. Ben Berden and Caroline Mani have recently been announced as the two pro riders for Raleigh for the 2012 season, but the jury is still out on who will be joining them after the race tomorrow.

Additionally, top-level but already contractually obligated pros taking to the start line include Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld’s Tim Johnson. Other noteworthy contenders include Ali Goulet (stay tuned for our interview with the former pro snowboarder on his return to cyclocross), the aforementioned Jonathan Page, and a handful of fast local racers vying for the spot. On the women’s side, Nicole Duke is the heavy hitter, but is joined by Kari Studley, singlespeeder-extraordinaire and defending contract winner Gaertner. Ben Berden and Caroline Mani will both be in attendance for the race as well as the team presentation ceremony tomorrow.

The racing action starts tomorrow night at Dealer Camp in Park City, Utah.

Stay tuned for our coverage of the first race of the US season (assuming you’re not counting the Raleigh-sponsored Sea Otter cyclocross race won by Ben Berden and Georgia Gould)!