Dan Evans, Adam Kenway and Joe Clark have all had strong starts to the hill-climbing season.
2014 National Hill-Climb champion Dan Evans continued his winning ways at the weekend by setting a new course record – and then declared that he’s got even more to come.
The Cannondale-UK rider posted a new fastest time on the 0.8-mile Guise Edge ascent in Yorkshire. The Welshman then followed that up with victory on the Norwood Edge climb to win the Otley two-stage event – the event in which he suffered impaired vision in last year.
It was his fifth hill-climb victory this autumn, having also won on Horseshoe Pass, Stoke Hill and Peaslows.
“I’m definitely where I want to be and and I am lighter than ever,” he told Cycling Weekly. “I know I’m going well and I’ve still not got down to chopping things off my bike to make it lighter yet, or started my short intense training.”
Short, explosive and powerful efforts is what will be needed at this year’s Nationals on October 30, which takes place on Bank Road in Matlock.
Typically more adept at four to six minute climbs, Evans knows that he isn’t the outright favourite for the event – even if Paddy Power’s odds differ – but rather that expectation falls on the weight of Adam Kenway (Metaltek-Kuota) and Joe Clark (EnvelopeMaster).
The pair, who often train together in the road racing season, have also had winning starts to the hill-climbing season.
Kenway beat Clark at Monsal Head at the weekend by the narrowest margin of 0.2 seconds, just two seconds shy of breaking one of domestic time-trialing’s hardest-to-beat course records.
It was, like Evans, Kenway’s fifth hill-climb victory thus far, with success at the nocturnal Bolsover & District CC Hardwick Hall climb, Cat and Fiddle, Long Hill and Blackstone Edge events.
With his form at short, demanding events, Kenway should be considered the favourite for this year’s Nationals, but Clark is pushing him for that status.
Even though the softly-spoken Belper rider says that he has “no idea if I am one of the favourites, I just don’t know,” his wins at the Stocksbridge CC event was significant, given that Pea Royd Lane is a similar length climb to Matlock.
Another name who Paddy Power can expect to field bets on is defending champion and reigning National 10-mile champion Richard Bussell (AeroCoach).
Bussell could only finish fourth at the Minehead CC Porlock hill-climb last month, but he made amends by marching to a convincing win at the Shelsey Walsh climb in Worcestershire at the weekend. An indication of how strong he was is that Matt Clinton, the 2008 national champion at Matlock, was 15 seconds in arrears in second place.
One name who won’t be riding the Nationals is Jack Pullar, who came fourth at Monsal. The Pedal Heaven rider confirmed to CW that he is beginning his off-season early.