If 2018 was anything to go by, and if rumours are true, then expect to see Sam Hill and Martin Maes going head to head in more than one discipline in 2019.
Sam Hill was winning downhill titles before we had even heard of the Belgian manchild Martin Maes, but it hasn’t stopped them being close rivals on track. The Aussie then turned his attention to enduro and defended a World Enduro title.
Martin Maes then proved that he could go the other way from enduro to downhill then mix both and still win despite breaking his wrist early on in the year.
Racing on the prototype of what would be the recently released Nukeproof Dissent downhill bike, Sam Hill took the Garbanzo downhill win at Crankworx Whistler in the Summer of 2018 off the back of his 2nd place finish to Martin Maes in the EWS round in there. Hill was also 6th at the 2017 World Champs in Cairns on board his trail bike no less.
Rumours are abound that the Silent Assassin will make a return to World level downhill at the World Championships in Mont Saint Anne. A venue he won gold at coming back from injury in 2010. Eight years is a long time, but the man is arguably fitter now than he’s ever been.
Let’s take a look at Martin Maes’ 2018. Second in Chile before sitting out the Colombian round with a gammy wrist, he’d notch bronze in France before finishing 10th at the downhill World Cup in Fort William a month later. He wouldn’t finish worse than 2nd in any race until his disastrous race in Finale Ligure.
A win in Whistler at the Enduro World Series, followed by a win at the La Bresse DH World Cup, then a silver at World Champs. Maes clearly proved that he had the talent to switch to a single give it all run as well as multi stage management at an EWS.
If these two carry their form from 2018 into 2019, and Sam Hill dusts off his Five Tens and slings a leg over a Dissent downhill bike, things could get very interesting indeed. Could we see these two battling for a World Enduro and downhill World Championship titles in 2019? We certainly hope so.
With World Champs a week before the final world cup round in the US, some of the top DH riders battling for the overall might hold back and play it safe to get the overall rather than World Champs. This could in turn open the door for anyone willing to give it their all in a one run one kill shot.
Both riders stay with their current teams and sponsors, so it’s all about maximising the off-season and coming into this season fitter and faster than the last. They have both been quietly going about their business this off season and with just over a month till the first EWS, it is going to be interesting to see who has channelled their success in 2018 to carry it into 2019.
While there is plenty of other competition, these two seem to be a cut above when it comes to turning your hand to anything on any given day.