This is why he is a legend
If you’re wondering just why Sam Hill is considered by many to be The Man in mountain biking, here’s five good reasons why…
1. Lugano World Championships 2003
Sam Hill was only 18 years old in 2003 and so was racing in the Junior category (under 19s).
Although Hill was a clear favourite, he still took people’s breath away. “He went through a section so fast, and it was so rocky and muddy and loose, that I couldn’t understand… how he made his bike do what it did” – Eric Carter.
Kicking off something of a theme of his whole career, Hill crashed during his race run. But he still won. His time would have placed him 3rd in the Elite men! If he hadn’t crashed he would have set the fastest time of anyone that day.
2. Champéry World Cup 2007
Apparently Matti Lehikoinen won this race. No one remembers that though. And those that do also remember that Lehikoinen raced tactically that day; he deliberately qualified mid-pack so that he would avoid the rain.
Sam Hill doesn’t do tactical. He races foot-out flat-out, as they say. He qualified fastest – by a massive 14 seconds in fact – and so was the last man down the hill come race day.
The heavens opened with thirty riders still to go – and Lehikoinen sat in the hot seat at the bottom of the hill – and what happened next passed into legend.
Sure, Danny Hart’s 2011 World Champs run is amazing but Hill’s 2007 muddy masterclass is simply out of this world. He came third. But still ‘won’.
3. Val di Sole World Champs 2008
AKA that front wheel washout.
Hill was the reigning World Champion. His race run was simply blistering. Visibly faster than everyone else. He was five seconds up at the split. Going into the penultimate corner he was approximately ten seconds in front…
Then he crashed. Properly hit the deck. This wasn’t just a dab.
He got back on his bike. He came third. But still ‘won’.
4. Meribel World Cup 2014
This was 2014. You can’t win World Cups on flat pedals. It is literally not possible anymore.
No one told Sam Hill.
5. Valberg-Guillaume Enduro World Series 2016
And as for top-level enduro racing, you can’t win those unless you’re clipped in either. Fact.
And the EWS is for pure enduro specialist athletes. Gone are the days when ex-downhillers can stroll in and get on to the top step of the podium.
Sam Hill won Rd7 of the 2016 EWS. On flat pedals. Mind. Blown.
And this year, he’s quite possibly going to win the Enduro World Series overall title.
Sam Hill: the legend
Hill is not an ex-downhiller. He is a current and all-time mountain bike God. There’s him and there’s John Tomac. Everyone else is not even in the same universe.