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Action shots from the 2017 UCI World Cup, Australia

Sam Hill - Master Of Enduro at UCI Cairns 2017

Sep 212017

Australian rider Sam Hill dropped the mic at the UCI DH World Championship in Cairns when he pulled off finishing as one of 4 aussies in the top 6 on his Nukeproof Mega 275 Carbon Enduro bike. The internet has been going crazy with Sam’s revelation to ride his enduro bike further adding to the controversy surrounding the various wheel size arguments. After racing only one World Cup DH this year in Fort William, he was selected to race the world champs in his home country. The debut of a single crown fork and dropper post-ed 160mm travel enduro bike at a DH World Championship event was something remarkable. We have seen him do extraordinary things in the past but ‘Seven Second Sam’ is not done breaking records yet.

We caught up with Sam to get his take on his run in Cairns.

You finished 6th at the UCI world cup in Cairns on your Nukeproof Mega 275C enduro bike despite not riding DH this season, congrats! Are you stoked?

Yeah I'm really pleased. Having not competed in much DH in over a year I didn't know what to expect. I know what I am capable of doing on a bike so I went there wanting to do well and it was an awesome feeling to be right up there with all the guys who have been racing the whole DH circuit.

Were you shocked when you were selected to race the World Champs in your home country?

Not really. Australia has a selection criteria for making it onto the worlds team, that's the reason I raced the world cup in Fort William in june this year. They were allowed 8 elite men so I knew I had to get a good result in Fort William to be selected. I had an OK race there and finished 18th which was good enough to get me on the team.

Why did you choose to ride your enduro bike in the UCI World Cup?

I chose to race my enduro bike because I felt it was the best choice for me. I knew the track in Cairns was not going to be super rough. I also haven't spent any time on my DH bike to be able to ride it to its full potential. Im super comfortable on my enduro bike as that's what I've been racing all year so that's why it seemed the best choice for me.

What thoughts were going through your head when preparing for the event?

To be honest, I was feeling relaxed and didn't feel any pressure that I would normally feel at this event. I think because I haven't been racing the DH circuit this year a lot of people didn't think of me as a threat so I didn't really have all the hype and attention on me which was good. I just got to focus on myself and I had a lot of fun in practice so leading up to the race I was in a happy place.

Did you have any nerves going into the race knowing that everyone else would be riding a DH bike? What about the possible appearance of 29ers?

No this didn't affect me at all really. I knew that racing my enduro bike would have its advantages and also disadvantages on different sections of the course. I honestly don't think that wheel size would of made a difference on that track either.

We loved your killer green and gold Nukeproof Mega! Did you make any changes to your bike for the race?

Not really. The bike was basically exactly the same as I race it in the EWS series. The only changes we made was the gearing, we changed the 12 speed drive train out for a more DH specific 7 speed setup.

You’ve been focusing heavily on the EWS this year. Do you think this helped you prepare for the UCI in Cairns?

I'm not sure. Its different training and racing an EWS compared to a DH. I think my fitness was good for the Cairns course with the long pedal at the finish. So definitely in some areas it helped but I think the raw speed that you get from riding the DH circuit all season would of helped also.

Were there nerves going into the race especially being the first rider down on Sunday? What challenges did you face during the race?

Yeah I was getting pretty nervous even during practice in the week. Heading into the race I tried to keep my mind occupied on other things and I was surprised how calm I actually stayed at the top before my race.

What challenges did you face during the race?

I think for me it's always important to ride loose, sometimes when there’s too much pressure you tighten up on the bike and it always feels like a struggle then. So I'm happy I could keep the nerves away and ride the best I could.

What does this mean for any future competitions for you? Will you race DH more? 

My focus is still on the EWS. I'm not going to say I'm retired from DH because I think I will still race some events in the future, but I'm having more fun racing EWS at the moment so that's what I'm going to keep doing.

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. Enjoy your well earned rest before the EWS Finale next week!

Thanks very much!