Sam Hill wins Mont Sainte Anne downhill World Cup (photos: Duncan Philpott)
After five years without a World Cup win, the Australian legend finally returns to the top, where he belongs.
The fifth round of the 2014 UCI MTB downhill World Cup took place in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, over the weekend where Team CRC/Nukeproof rider Sam Hill blazed the track and finished in first place. Mike Jones finished 13th and Joe Smith took 20th. Team Manager Nigel Page was there, as ever, to bring us all the action from Canada.
The ‘real man’s track’, the World Cup has been coming to MSA for over 20 years now and it is still renowned for being one of the best and toughest courses on the circuit. This year the course designers made some great improvements to the track and it was one of the best to date. Ironically this is the track where Sam had his last big win at the 2010 World Championships.
Sam, Mike and Joe all came into this race with confidence from some good results and a determination that showed all week. Sam had been telling me since his run in Leogang that he was winning Mont Sainte Anne and he did it with style. The quietly confident Australian has been putting in the work since his knee surgery last October, including following a strict training program from his trainer, Lewis.
Friday’s qualifying went great with all three riders in the top 15. Joe Smith in 15th, Mike Jones in 12th and Sam sixth with a slight mechanical. Joe has been on fire at the last few races in the UK and the speed Mike has moved up the world rankings is amazing and has everyone talking about him.
Practice for the lads went well on the race morning and everyone looked pretty focused for their race runs. Joe was off first for the team and put down a great run to finish 20th. Then it was young Mike off and as we watched him descend the mountain he looked pinned and wild. He wasn’t happy with his run but his time was good enough for 13th which is an astonishing achievement for his first year in the senior championship.
A lot of the big hitters had come down and the race was getting faster and faster. Danny Hart was sat in the hot seat with a super-quick time and then it was time for Sam to head down the mountain. Sam powered out of the gate in his casual looking style and looked like he was just cruising down the track, but as you watched what Sam was actually doing and the lines he was hitting it was amazing to see the master on top of his game. Sam was up at the first split, and again at the second split, riding into the last section flawlessly, crossing the line in 4:10 to the huge crowd’s delight. With five more riders to go it was a nail biting 15 minutes but no-one was able to match Sam’s run!
The whole crowd erupted when the people’s champion realized he had finally won, the emotion and relief on Sam’s face is something I will never forget and it was also the first ever win for the team on the world stage.
Huge congrats to Sam we are all super proud of him and the whole team has worked so hard to get to this point. It is an amazing feeling of sweet success.
The monkey is finally off Sam’s back and we are excited for the rest of the season for all three riders.
Thank you to all involved in the team who work so hard and to all our sponsors for their continued support and belief in the team.
Trek World Racing Photos: Matt Delorme
Neko Mulally and Laurie Greenland Maintain Top 10 Standings in UCI World Cup
The venue for round 5 of the World Cup Downhill, Mont-Sainte-Anne, never provides a dull day of racing, and yesterday was no exception. Unfortunately for Trek World Racing the solid preparation and fast pace in practice didn’t translate into the results the riders deserved, but nevertheless there were some positive highlights to a tricky day.
George Brannigan’s best ever result at Mont-Sainte-Anne over the years he’s been racing here was a 17th, so his improvement from 26th in qualifying up to a new personal best of 15th was a solid result.
Laurie Greenland’s first visit to the mythical Quebec track had the junior wide eyed and impressed to finally see and ride the track he’s watched for years on screen. To finished 8th in his first race here, and maintain his top 10 in the overall, was another solid ride all part of the learning process. Mont-Sainte-Anne is a track mastered over time.
Neko Mulally had yet another top 10 qualifier but in the race got a little messy on a track that had rapidly dried out in the first day of full sunshine for the week. Finishing 17th Neko managed to remain in the top 10 in the overall, where he’s been all season.
Brook MacDonald saw crashes affect both his qualifier and final, despite being on pace all week. Two and half seconds up at split one in the final only to crash before split 2, Brook was on for high top 10 placing, and was clearly dejected by the a flying run spoiled by a front wheel wash out in changed conditions, finishing 16th.
George said: “Of course it’s great to have my best ever result here but after thinking of what could have been, because I made some silly errors up top, I know they cost me a top 10 here. Pace is good and that’s what matters.”
Laurie said: “It’s a long track here and I was surprised that in my race run I didn’t feel anywhere near as tired as I did in practice. I’ve learned a lot here especially about how to prepare for a track like this compared to some of the shorter ones”.
Greg Williamson had a huge crash on his final practice run where he hit his hip square onto a tree stump at high speed and later had trouble walking. He opted wisely not to race and instead focus his attention on recovery before next week’s round 6 in Windham, US.
Hutchinson UR Photos: Dave Trumpore
The weekend was a tough one for the whole Hutchinson UR team at the Mont Saint Anne World Cup.
First of all, Mick has chosen to postpone his come-back to World Cup racing for a bit longer as he doesn’t feel physically ready yet. He will probably start racing again at Whistler Crankworx and then Méribel World Cup finals in France.
Fabien was struggling going back onto his DH bike. He had a bad qualifying run and didn’t make it to the finals.
Guillaume had lots of fun on this very technical and physical track, but unfortunately had a huge crash on Thursday, resulting in him having to cruise for his qualy run where he ended up 50th. On race day a dog jumped out into the middle of the track during his run in the toughest rock garden of the year, he was therefore allowed a re-run by the UCI commissaires. But his bad luck continued as he got a puncture after only 30 seconds on his re-run, therefore resulting in a DNF.
Tracey had a really difficult weekend, with a huge crash on Thursday too, one of the biggest crashes for her this year. On Friday, mechanicals kept her from practicing properly, and so on Saturday for the finals she was faced with having to jump the huge final jump for the first time during her race run! She managed it like a pro and got an excellent 5th place, which is her 3rd podium this year! Such a great result before going to Windham next weekend for the 6th WC race.
On the Slopestyle side of things, Sam Reynolds took part in the Gold FMB event called City 8 in Quebec City, after qualifying 4th he got a great 5th place in the finals not far behind the world top riders with a great run composed of a neat 360 drop, a huge flip-whip, and a 360 tail whip amongst other cool tricks.
The week before back in the UK, Sam got 1st at the Jackgear Invitational, therefore getting 2 great results on both sides of the Atlantic!
We can’t wait to see what Sam can pull off at the Whistler JoyRide in 2 weeks time.
Fabien is off to Whistler to join the Polygon UR boys in racing the Crankworx EWS, while Guillaume and Tracey will be representing the HutchinsonUR DH team in Windham.