Pro riders Ed Laverack and Haley Simmonds both stormed to first-time victories at the National Hill-Climb Championships in Devon on Sunday, smashing records in the process.
Laverack sliced 47 seconds from his own course record and taking victory by nine seconds.
The Llanelli-based 25-year-old who rides for SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling continued the form which has seen him win several events this season including the Welsh Championships, clocking 11-37.0 while runner-up Paul Double (VC Venta) was around 29 seconds quicker than 2015 hill-climb champion Richard Bussell (AeroCoach).
Strong wind and rain greeted many riders to the 3.125-mile Haytor climb out of Bovey Tracey as they did a recce of the course on Saturday, but conditions had improved significantly by the following day with a tailwind helping most of the riders up the climb.
“The conditions were brilliant,” said Laverack. “I had a strong tailwind pushing me towards the end, so the finish was really quick as it’s flatter too.
“I went hard from the beginning and gave it my all, and the tailwind helped towards the end. The course suited me as it’s longer, I’ve been targeting this event all year.”
Laverack, who came into the hill-climb season straight from riding the Tour of Britain, has chosen his events carefully and reported an average of 20 watts more power than this time last season.
“My training has been geared towards this for quite a while, with road racing and mainly longer hill climbs, so I feel I prepared really well coming into the race.
“But next year I’ll be pretty much focused on road racing. The course for next year’s hill-climb champs doesn’t suit me, but it depends on time frame – I’d love to challenge and try to retain my crown.”
However it’s not all about the winning for Laverack, who added: “I really enjoy coming to these events. There’s a great atmosphere and community feel with a lot of local clubs represented. I’m close to my local club, so it’s nice to get that community feeling and win in the process.”
The team prize in the men’s event went to Cycles in Motion, with Patrick Clark, Archie Cross and Eugene Cross forming the winning trio.
Hayley Simmonds (AeroCoach) broke her own course record by an impressive 45 seconds, taking the win and topping an impressive podium with all three women breaking the old course record.
The 31-year-old covered the course in 14-17.8 and won by 11.5 seconds from Joscelin Lowden (The Independent Pedaler), with Rebecca Richardson (Brother.UK-Fusion) another 12 seconds back in third.
The juniors and women started earlier in the day, and it was thought didn’t benefit as much from the tailwind like many of the male riders did later in the day.
Nevertheless, impressive times were soon littering the time-sheets.
“I rode the course the day before and it was a stiff headwind, so the conditions for the race were much better, especially when you got to the flatter part of the climb,” said Simmonds.
But her ride wasn’t without its challenges, and she added: “My power meter stopped working so I just went for it and hoped for the best. Luckily I think I paced it very well.
“It feels great to win after coming so close in previous years with second and third.
“This year was probably my best chance of a win because it’s longer, while next year’s course is quite short.
“A lot of road riders are taking time off, but I would’ve been racing up until last weekend anyway, so challenging for this wasn’t really any extra effort for me. All the prep on hilly courses was very similar to hill-climbing so it’s fitted quite well.”
While Richardson had to settle for third after a string of victories throughout the season, she did lead Brother.UK-Fusion to the women’s team prize alongside Nicola Coates and Lucy Lee.
British National Hill Climb Championship (Haytor, Devon)
1. Hayley Simmonds (AeroCoach), 14-17.8
2. Joscelin Lowden (The Independent Pedaler), 14-29.3
3. Rebecca Richardson (Brother.UK Fusion RT), 14-41.7
4. Hannah Rhodes-Patterson (Congleton CC), 15-20.6
5. Maryka Sennema (Paceline RT), 15-25.1
6. Fiona Burnie (GS Metro), 15-29.8
7. Kate Mactear (Bristol South Cycling Club), 16-02.1
8. Olivia Bentley (Vision Innovative Leisure Racing Team), 16-08.0
9. Lauren Johnston (Avid Sport), 16-26.1
10. Nicole Coates (Brother.UK Fusion RT), 16-29.9
1. Ed Laverack (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling), 11-37.0
2. Paul Double (Velo Club Venta), 11-46.1
3. Richard Bussell (AeroCoach), 12-15.2
4. Tom Nancarrow (NOPINZ), 12-16.7
5. Dan Evans (ASSOS Equipe UK), 12-25.1
6. Kirk Vickers (Holohan Coaching Race Team), 12-27.3
7. Harrison Wood (Mid Devon CC), 12:30.6
8. Andrew Feather (ChampionSystem(UK)), 12-31.0
9. Richard Gildea (Didcot Phoenix CC), 12-31.8
10. Leon Wright (Race Hub), 12-34.7
Junior women winner: Caitlin Peters (Storey Racing), 17-00.5
Junior men winner: Chris Mann (Velotik Racing Team), 13-47.0