Sam Hill to race Cairns World Championships 2017
We talk to one of mountain biking’s all-time greats, who's making a downhill comeback on an enduro bike!
The 'flat pedal thunder from Down Under', Sam Hill has to be one of our all-time favourite riders, not to mention one of the fastest dudes to ever swing a leg over a DH bike. So, when it was announced that he’d be racing the World Champs in Cairns next weekend, of course we got excited!
With 4 titles to his name, the current Enduro World Series leader is no stranger to the World Champs, but in recent years he’s stepped back from the downhill scene to focus on enduro. Now, with this year’s Worlds taking place in Cairns, Australia, Sam has decided to make a comeback for what could be his last ever World Champs race.
Earlier in the year we saw Sam race at the Fort William World Cup, which gave an indication that he had Cairns on his agenda. He raced to prove himself worthy of a spot on the Australian team, easily making the cut.
We asked Sam what it’s been like getting back into downhill and how he’s prepared for this year’s race:
“It’s been good. Last season I was a bit over downhill and I just wasn’t excited to be at the races. Once I decided to focus on enduro, I just packed the DH bike away for a few months, but I think being off it for that long made it really fun to be back at it. I didn’t ride any downhill for 10 months before Fort Bill and then just did 12 runs in the week before the race. I had a goal of getting a top 20 and I got 18th, so I’m pretty happy with that. It wasn’t an amazing result, but it was enough to secure a place on the Worlds team. After racing the last 2 EWS rounds in Aspen and Whistler, I’ve had a bit of a break and a chance to freshen up before Cairns. I’ve been trying to keep the fitness up and work on some sprints for that last pedal!”
He’s chosen to ride his Nukeproof Mega enduro bike over a full-on downhill rig and is hoping it'll secure him a home soil World Champs victory. Is this just because he feels more comfortable on his enduro race bike or because he reckons it will give him an advantage on the flatter Cairns track? We’re not sure, but all we know is that with brutal rock gardens, massive alien tree roots and high speed whoops, it’s going to be one wild ride!
And just to give you a reminder of what Sam is capable of at World Champs, this is his epic performance from Val Di Sole in 2008. Even with the crash (spoiler alert!), this ranks as one of the greatest downhill race runs of all time.
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Tune in to watch the Worlds all this weekend on www.redbull.tv
Former Mountain Biking UK features editor Ed Thomsett is a downhiller at heart but has been riding bikes of all types since a young age. He's raced both nationally and internationally in downhill and enduro, and has spent several summers living in the Alps and Canada, riding, roadtripping and living the dirtbag lifestyle. Now Ed calls upon his years of experience riding bikes to the limit as a writer and reviewer for MBUK and BikeRadar. He's also an avid trail builder and has scraped out numerous steep and technical lines in the woodlands of his native North Yorkshire. These days Ed will happily turn his hand to any discipline and believes the sign of a good week is when every bike in his shed ends up muddy by the end of it.
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