National Hill Climb Championships 2013: The Big Preview

The short but sweet season of lung-bursting efforts up steep banks and long drags reaches its pinnacle this Sunday, October 27, at the national hill climb championships in North Yorkshire.

This year the event heads across the Pennines to the climb of The Stang, a seldom used sliver of asphalt draped over the bleak moors on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and culminating at the County Durham border.

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The climb is the second longest in ten years but, unlike Long Hill in 2011, The Stang is presents a very technical challenge. With sections near 20% at the start of the climb, the gradient eases towards a fast downhill section around the halfway mark.

The road then rears up over the exposed moors towards a section of false flats near the summit, which comes around a blind bend up to the County Durham border.

There are few events that blend tactics, equipment, form and performance under pressure better than the national hill climb, and this year will be no different.


When and where

When: Sunday October 27, 2013
First rider: 12:01pm

Last rider: 3:00pm

HQ: The Charles Bathurst Inn, Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire, DL11 6EN.

The Stang climbs up to the raw beauty of the North Pennines

The climb

Length: 2.33 miles

Altitude at bottom: 890ft

Altitude at top: 1700ft

Vertical gain: 810ft

Average gradient: 6.58%

Steepest gradient: 18%

Ones to watch

Tejvan Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT)

A strong time triallist and key favourite, Oxford-based Pettinger rode a practice race effort last week but wouldn’t tell us his time. Will he crack under the pressure?

Lynn Hamel (Herbalife-LeisureLakesBikes)

The defending women’s champion won the test event last September and holds the women’s record for the climb. It’s hard to see her being beaten to what would be her fifth national title.

Rich Handley (Rapha Condor JLT)

The in-form Rapha rider was second on Long Hill in 2011. What he loses with his sprint, he makes up for with his time trialling ability.

Jack Pullar (Madison-Genesis)

Last year’s climb up The Rake was made for Pullar. One the one hand he prefers shorter climbs, but on the other he is unbeaten in six hill climbs this season.

Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles)

The versatile 2008 winner always comes good for the nationals; he has finished on the podium every year since 2006.

James Gullen (Hope Factory)

With three hill climb wins last weekend, the Yorkshireman will be a good bet to muscle in on the podium.

Joanne Blakeley (Champion System-Maxgear)

Defending champ Hamel reckons Blakeley and junior rider Alice Cobb (Scott Contessa Epic) will be the ones most likely to steal her crown.

What they say…

Howard Heighton, event organiser
“It’s definitely a thinking-man’s climb. I would suggest that, if they can, all riders have a ride to the top otherwise they’re going to get caught out. When you ride it, the finish just creeps up on you. We’re going to put markers out to give a countdown.

“It’s really nice as an organiser to see that many juniors, it’s really positive for the future of the sport, although it’s quite disappointing to only see three junior women.”

Tejvan Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT)
“I think I’ve got a good chance because I’m in good form and I do tend to like the longer climbs. But at the nationals you never know.

“I did a course recce [last week] where I just treated it like a race; I used race wheels and a skinsuit, and I just tried to get a feel for pacing and a feel for the hill at race pace.

“I’m not going to say what time I did….only, it was a lot quicker than when I did it with a headwind!”

Pettinger in 2010

Lynn Hamel (Herbalife-LeisureLakesBikes)
“I have to watch what I am doing rather than how much I’m doing in October. It’s about keeping clear of all the bugs going around this time of year.

“I’m feeling in good form. Had a bout of tiredness recently but hopefully now I feel OK. It would be nice to have four in a row – five in total but four in a row.”

Jack Pullar (Madison-Genesis)
“I’m not as fit as I’d like to be at this point in the season as I’ve been racing since February. With the short races you can get away with it as it’s mainly down to

natural ability, whereas the nationals course is eight or nine minutes.”

“It’s not all about how strong you are, it’s also about how aero you can be. If there’s a headwind it should suit the time triallists.”

Lean and mean, Pullar has had a long season

James Gullen (Hope Factory)
“If someone went out flat out at the bottom and lost too much for the top, or the other way round and had too much at the end, then that could be how it’s lost, rather than who’s the fastest.

“I think the wind will make a big difference. With a headwind it can take 12 minutes or so, but with a tailwind it could be done in under nine minutes.”

Related links

Photo Gallery: Catford and Bec Hill Climbs

Photo Gallery: Monsal Hill Climb
Photo Gallery: National Hill Climb Championships 2012

Jack Pullar’s 2012 hill climb bike

Jack Pullar wins 2012 national hill climb