Dan Evans, the reigning National Hill-Climb champion, knew he was performing at his maximum effort during the Otley CC two-stage Hill-Climb on Saturday when his eyes began to blur.
In what was an unusual indicator of effort, the Team Elite/Cannondale-UK rider was riding up Norwood Edge, the second climb of the event, when he began to feel uneasy as he neared the end.
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Having beaten close-rival and on-form Sri Chinmoy rider Tejvan Pettinger, a previous National Hill-Climb champion himself, by 0.8 seconds on the morning’s Guise Hill, Evans stretched his body’s every sinew on the afternoon’s climb to make sure that Pettinger’s five-year dominance of the race would not continue.
It worked, for Evans set a time of 4-54.9 – 3.3 seconds quicker than Pettinger. The pain was worth it: “I did 498 watts for 4.54.9, which is insane,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“Towards the end my eyes were going funny and my vision was blurry. I was really struggling at the end. My partner was cheering me on at the top and that got me home. It was a strange feeling.”
Evans has won six open hill-climb events this autumn, his first being the Buxton CC-promoted 4.44-mile Long Hill climb in early September where he beat Pettinger by six seconds – hugely impressive given that Evans, unlike Pettinger, specialises in far shorter climbs.
Currently at a racing weight of 66kg, Evans’s power output has increased this year ahead of the RTTC National Hill-Climb Championships at Jackson Bridge, near Holmfirth, on October 25. “My power is going through the roof,” he noted.
Is there really much difference?
“On the Porlock Hill-Climb (September 20) that Tejvan just beat me on (by 2.7 seconds), I got a power PB of 437 for 14.48 minutes.
“Looking at my power and my timings on courses that I’m racing, I’m putting out more power and going quicker.”
Evans, 34, tasted double success at the weekend, also being victorious at the Wrexham Road Club Horseshoe Pass Hill-Climb, Llangollen.
“It was disappointing to not beat my course record on Horseshoe but my power was up and my weight was down.
“To go under sub-9 minutes again is some achievement. That’s the been the climb of National winners – James Dobbin and Chris Boardman – so it bodes well for the Nationals.”