Monday, July 6th, 2015
Sam, who has been out with a shoulder injury so far this season, was keen to come back early than planned to get up to race speed and test out his shoulder. It was a true display of his love of racing that he chose to push himself and his rehab to return a few months earlier than expected.
” Don’t really have any goals or expectations for the weekend, just want to ride and have fun, I’m excited to go race,” Sam Hill
Sam, despite the injury brought his signature style and line choice to the tricky Swiss track, with the team and crowds alike stoked to have him getting up to speed for the North American rounds and infamous Val Di Sol venue. In celebration of his return, we even chose to drop a few shots of Sam’s custom Nukeproof Pedals that he has been developing along with fellow flat pedal team weapon; Joe Smith. (expect the hear more about these later in the year).
Welcome back Sam!
Watch the #onthehunt edit:
Team Manager Nigel Page brings us his report:
The resort of Lenzerheide, in what must be one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of the world, has a newly built bike park with five different downhill runs from the top of the mountain down to the lift station.
We had heard different reports about the track that the race was going to be held on and the riders prefer more natural tracks rather than racing on bike parks, but the track was cleverly designed using parts of the bike park trails but with some very technical natural sections thrown in to mix things up. On the whole though, the track was super-fast and really loose due to the scorching hot weather all week.
The track proved to be another race with very close times and you had to have a perfect smooth run to get a good result here.
Sam Hill was back on his bike for the first time since his shoulder surgery less than eight weeks ago. His goal was to just ride his bike at World Cup level and use it as part of the rehab to get his shoulder stronger and prepare for the rest of the season when his shoulder should be strong enough to give it his best shot. Sam is a true professional and rode smart all week picking lines that would have the least impact on his shoulder and riding safe and smooth which is unlike Sam as he usually attacks and picks the craziest lines.
He still managed to qualify through to the finals in the top 80 and manage a top 60 position even riding safe and steady. This was really impressive and also showed Sam’s focus and professionalism by not pushing too hard and potentially setting his recovery back. Sam now has another four weeks of rehab before the next World Cup round in Mont St. Anne, Canada, which he won last year. Great work Sam, it is great to have you back with us.
Joe Smith and Mike Jones were both looking super fast and strong through practice and both qualified well to go through to Sunday’s finals.
By the time the last 30 Elite riders were to race, the track was pretty beat up with big holes and blown out corners everywhere.
Joe was off first out of the two young Welsh lads and looked fast and strong on the big screen and crossed the line with a really quick time of 3.07 which was good enough for 23rd place. Joe was a little disappointed as he was hoping to get into that top 10 – 15 with his current form and amazing bike skills, but he said he just rode a little tight in sections just feathering the brakes a little too much, which was not the way you could achieve a top result on this track, but still a great result for the team and no crashes or injuries.
Mike Jones was keen to get a good result here after crashing at the last round in Leogang, but it wasn’t to be. Mike attacked hard on the top section out of the gate and looked really fast but then lost his rhythm a little on the middle section just stalling a little on some of the loose tight corners and lost a couple of sections, but then turned up the gas on the bottom part of the course and was flying, but he pushed just that little too much as many riders did and just lost the front end on a super fast loose corner and went down in a cloud of dust. Luckily there were no injuries and Mike just wrote off a brand new Nukeproof knee guard (keep an eye out for these as they are dropping soon-NP) which did its job. With some qualifying points Mike only dropped down to 12th in the world and can easily get back into the top ten ranking with a good result at the next round.
The race and the season to come
The whole team is working great and we are super positive to be able to get some great results in the second half of the season.
The race ended up being super exciting and congratulations to Greg Minnaar who took the win with a controlled and smooth but pinned run to enter the record books for the most ever Elite male World Cup wins. Huge congratulations to him.
Hard luck to Australian Connor Fearon and Frenchman Loic Bruni who looked to be matching Greg’s time on track until Connor had a huge over-the-bars crash on the steep woods and Loic slid on the penultimate corner losing a ton of speed, but they made the race super exciting.
Thanks as ever to all our team and sponsors. We’re looking forward to the next two rounds in Canada and America in just under a month’s time.