Newly crowned 2016 National Hill-Climb champion Adam Kenway (Metaltek-Kuota) expressed his surprise at his win on Bank Road in Matlock, having only decided to race on the morning.
Kenway was involved in a collision with a car nine days previous and spent the night in hospital after being transferred in an air ambulance. He suffered ligament damage in his wrist, and pain in his knees, hips and ribs.
The 29-year-old immediately went from race favourite to doubting that he would even start, spending last week visiting Legoland and SEA LIFE centre with his son. It was only after an hour’s ride on Thursday that he realised he could be in a suitable enough shape to take to the startline.
“I am gobsmacked; over the moon. I really didn’t think I would win it in my wildest dreams,” Kenway told Cycling Weekly. “There are so many fast lads out there who are flying at the moment, Joe, Dan [Evans], Richard [Bussell].
“I got up this morning, had some porridge, a croissant with Nutella on, and I thought ‘I may as well ride it and say hello to everyone’. I was going to support Joe [Clark, who finished fifth] and cheer him on after my ride.
“This time last week I thought I had no chance. My muscles and wrists are throbbing now and I’ll be in a state tomorrow but at the time the lungs and legs were burning and I was going dizzy. The pain all blurs into one.
“It’s probably my biggest ever win. To be national champion of anything is… I’m over the moon. It’s so competitive, hill-climbing now. There was a field of 240, more than 100 got refused, and people are doing these efforts all the time now – just look at how many course records have been broken this year.”
Women’s winner and new course record holder Lou Bates (Velochils Interbike) was rated as favourite for the female title by CW after her wins on Pea Royd Lane and Monsal Head, but she says that she didn’t agree with the statement that the race was hers “to lose”.
“I seen that comment and was like ‘oh, God’,” she laughed. “I didn’t feel the favourite because there has only been one person who has won the last three Nationals, Maryka [Sennema].
“Hill-climbs are about putting it out on the day, on that particular climb and Maryka has done that the last three years. She has been incredibly hard to beat.
“I’ve got course records on every hill-climb I’ve done this year so it’s been a good season.”