The 2008 World Cup season opens for gravity riders this weekend in Maribor, Slovenia. No one is more ready than reigning World Cup and World Champion Sam Hill (Team Monster Energy Iron Horse). The Australian downhiller proved he is on form this past weekend with a win at the Val di Sole Test Event in Italy on the course that will be used for the World Championships in mid-June.
The downhill course is essentially new, but somewhat based upon a previous European Championship course. It takes about three and a half minutes to race. Hill took his win in the final with a more than five-second margin over Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate), a result that had many in the race paddock returning to their team areas scratching their heads, trying to figure out what needs to be done to beat the four time World Champion. Fabien Barel (Subaru Mountain Bike Pro Team) finished third, down by 7.5 seconds.
"My run in the final was OK," said Hill modestly. "The track has lots of line choices. It's technical and a lot of fun, but this can make it really hard to get a perfect run on it. I thought it was cool to have this warm up race to see where my race speed is before heading into World Cup 1."
Looking to this weekend's World Cup, Hill said, "I'm definitely looking for a clean run in Maribor this coming weekend. I'm really looking forward to the start of the World Cup season in Slovenia...it's an awesome track, and hopefully I can go there and start the season off with a win!"
Hill will be joined in Slovenia by team-mate Brendan Fairclough, who will be aiming for a top five finish. Both riders were scheduled to arrive in Slovenia in Wednesday, walk the course Thursday and begin riding it in official practice on Friday.
Floriane Pugin (Playbiker -Iron Horse) won the women's test event ahead of Sabrina Jonnier (Team Maxxis) and Emmeline Ragot (Suspension Center). See full results from the Val di Sole Test Event.