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MTB News and Notes: Hill re-signs with Iron Horse

You can take Sam Hill’s name off the list of mountain-bike free agents. The two-time reigning junior downhill world champion has re-upped with the Iron Horse-MadCatz squad, signing a two-year deal with the East Coast-based team. “Sam has a really bright future in the sport,” said Iron Horse’s Todd Seplavy about the 18-year-old. “We’re looking to grow the Iron Horse team and Sam together and give him a solid home. We didn’t want to see him out there looking for a new ride every year.” Hill’s signing put an end to rumors that the young Aussie might be jumping from the Iron Horse ship and

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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor

Hill stays put.

Hill stays put.

Photo: Courtesy Iron Horse

You can take Sam Hill’s name off the list of mountain-bike free agents. The two-time reigning junior downhill world champion has re-upped with the Iron Horse-MadCatz squad, signing a two-year deal with the East Coast-based team.

“Sam has a really bright future in the sport,” said Iron Horse’s Todd Seplavy about the 18-year-old. “We’re looking to grow the Iron Horse team and Sam together and give him a solid home. We didn’t want to see him out there looking for a new ride every year.”

Hill’s signing put an end to rumors that the young Aussie might be jumping from the Iron Horse ship and hooking up with Yeti.

Hill’s potential was on clear display in September when he won the world’s junior race by 11 seconds and posted a time that would have put him in the top four in the elite race, won by Greg Minnaar.

“Anybody who knows [Hill] knows he has blinding speed,” said Seplavy. “Now we just need to work on his pedaling and his fitness. When he gets that dialed in — Oh s–t! — people better watch out.”

Hill’s teammate from 2003, Nathan Rennie, the reigning downhill World Cup overall champ, remains unsigned. And though Iron Horse is interested in bringing back the talented Aussie, you get the feeling that’s not a deal that’s going to get done.

“Iron Horse is hopeful that something will happen [with Rennie],” Seplavy added. “It would certainly be in our best interest to bring him back.”

But with Rennie’s asking price on the rise after his breakout 2003 season, it’s unlikely the smallish Iron Horse squad could afford both him and Hill. Instead, look for Iron Horse to bring back Aussie Bryn Atkinson and add a lesser-known downhiller.

Besides Rennie, Hill and Atkinson, last year’s team included downhillers Jared Graves and Kyle Ebbett.

“You definitely won’t see a cross-country racer on the team this year,” Seplavy said. “Downhilling is our niche right now.”