Australia's Hill ready to defend

Sam Hill (Australia)

Sam Hill (Australia) (Image credit: Mikkeli Godfree)

Hannah steps up to race the elites

Australia's Sam Hill is among the favourites for the downhill world championships finishing up on Sunday. He hopes to defend his 2006 crown.

22 year-old Hill (Iron Horse - Monster Energy) goes into the event on the back of some good results including victory in the last two rounds of the World Cup Series which he currently leads. He has also performed well on the Fort William course in the past winning the World Cup round staged there in 2006.

"The talk here is who can stop Sam from winning," said Australian mountain bike coach, Scott Sharples. "But Sam is approaching this like any other race where he thinks about the track and the other riders and tries to practice fast and do what he has to be at his best when it counts."

Hill isn't the only Australian with medal potential. At last year's Championships the Australians secured four of the top ten places with Nathan Rennie claiming bronze, Chris Kovarik fifth and Michael Hannah sixth. Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate) is currently ranked fifth in the world, has good credentials on the Fort William course where he placed second earlier this year in a round of the Scottish Downhill Series.

Tracey Hannah, will be Australia's only starter in the women's race. She won the 2006 junior world title. "Tracey is riding fast and she's a chance for a medal," said Sharples of the Queensland teenager who in her first year in the senior competition has risen to number three on the world rankings and claimed victory in the Austrian round of the World Cup Series. "She's pretty tiny though and this course has a few flatter sections where the stronger riders will benefit."

"The steeper the better for Tracey but she's fit and she'll work hard so you never know what will happen on the day," said Sharples.

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