Sam Hill Podiums at Round Two of the UCI Downhill World Cup in Cairns
MTB - Cairns, Australia
From the last race in South Africa, we headed over to the west coast of Australia and had a great week staying at Sam Hill’s house in Perth before heading to Cairns on the east coast, getting in some dusty downhill runs, trail riding and a few laps at the local BMX track. Thanks so much to Sam, Bridget and Bam for having us and looking after us at their house for the week and treating us like lords! Also a big thanks to Sam's dad Merv for the shuttle runs.
Then it was an overnight flight from Perth to Brisbane and onto Cairns for the ‘Rumble in the Rain Forest’. The course builders had put a lot of work into the track that snakes its way down the rainforest/jungle. The track basically came down the same way as it did for the 1996 World Championships but with some new sections and huge features. With some massive jumps, a supercross whoop section, super-tricky off-camber root sections, a huge rock garden and more than a bit of pedalling as well, not to forget about all the snakes and giant spiders just off the side of the track in the dense jungle.
After a course walk everything was looking great and all the guys were keen to get on their bikes and down the track, but then some of the worst rain I have ever seen hit Cairns and turned everything into a mud bath like a scene from Rambo! At least the only bonus was the rain is warm here.
The track turned into a battlefield as it was so muddy and boggy on the flat, it made the pedalling at South Africa look like a walk in the park. I have never seen the fastest riders in the world look so tired!
Qualifying on Friday went well for young Mike Jones and Joe Smith. Joe was riding super fast and even with a crash into a tree he placed 20th and Mike easily went through to the finals, still riding with his broken hand. Mike had had a rough week with a graze from the BMX track getting infected resulting in a few evening trips for the both of us into Cairns’ town centre 24hr walk-in doctors for treatment and antibiotics injections.
Sam had a terrible run in qualifying having a crash and a small mechanical from the crash, putting him in 50th and knocking his confidence a little.
From qualifying onwards the sun was out and by race time on Saturday it had dried up some of the open sections of the track but turned some sections into energy-sapping peanut butter and very slippery. There were many crashes in the finals and the riders had to dig in so deep on the flatter sections.
Mike Jones had a great run to place 30th, which was a fantastic result and a great boost for the remainder of his first senior race season. Mike will get a few weeks rest now to recover before the next race in Fort William.
Joe Smith was riding fantastically all week and put down a great run in the finals to finish 13th which was a fantastic result for him and the team. Great work mate.
Sam Hill gave it everything he had and rode the top section of the track so fast and smooth then dug in deep at the final pedalling section to clinch a fifth place podium finish. The Australian crowd went wild cheering for him – it was so great to see. It’s been such a hard week for all the team here in Cairns so it was even more satisfying getting a podium position for the team. Well done Sam, you’re the man!
A huge thanks to the whole team for a great effort. Jacy and Robbie worked flat out all week on the bikes keeping them running in the terrible conditions and Robbie had us in stitches laughing every night. Thanks to Salva for hanging out in the wet, hot jungle all week and dealing with about 1000 mosquito bites and editing late into the night everyday to show us what the riders were doing on track.
Thanks to all our great sponsors for their support.
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