Another sizeable crowd lined the length of Swain’s Lane – running through the two halves of Highgate Cemetery – to watch 205 riders tackle the climb. A sprinkling of rain on parts of the hill half way through proceedings didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits – or affect the results.
It was the Youths who kicked off the event with Innes Harvey of Velo Club de Londres first to record a time, stopping the clock at two minutes and 11 seconds. His team mate Oliver Wollaston took 26 seconds off that mark with a 1:45 but it was a third member of the same team – Oscar Nilsson-Julien who would reach the top of the climb just under three minutes later and set an unbeatable 1:38 – a time that would leave him 26th overall. Wollaston’s time would see him finish an eventual fourth as Milo Chapman set a time of 1:39 for second place and Alex Herd finishing third at 1:44.
Paul Hayward followed the Youth riders up the hill with the first of the Cargo bikes – with two beer kegs providing the cargo. His time of 6:24 was just three and half minutes off category winner Wei-Ho Ng’s impressive 2:53, with Gabriel Wulff taking second almost a minute back on 3:51 with Jeremy Nicholas third on 5:25.
The Veteran Men’s event saw Thomas Robb first away, cresting the top of Swain’s Lane in a very respectable time of 1:40. It was only good enough for five and a half minutes in the lead, though – with Jon Donnison knocking two seconds off to take over on top. He held that spot for three and a half minutes before Will ‘Anjin-san’ Adams clocked 1:31 to move into pole position for a place in the two-up final.
It was almost an hour and a quarter before that time was even challenged – with Matt Southerden just a second off Adams’ time – and the Rapha CC rider was still on top as the last Veteran set off up the hill. Bill Bell was marginally quicker than Southerden – but a fraction off Adams and slotted into second – and a place in the final. (There may not have been much in it), but it was the quicker of two men on the clock who held on to take the win in the final.
Just five Juniors took the start, with Jude Dodd of Cambridge CC taking third with a 1:59 – with Thomas Arkell of MHP a fraction ahead of Logan de Monchaux-Irons of CC Hackney in the top two places on 1:34.
Twenty two Senior Females tackled the hill with Helena Hayes off first and setting the tempo with a 2:24. A minute later, the mark has moved by 23 seconds with Kerry Middleton of Twickenham CC setting a 2:01 – and two minutes later it was at 1:50 as Jessica Evans of Assos Equipe sliced another 11 seconds off the fastest time.
Evans would top the leaderboard with just three riders to go – Jacintha Hamilton-Love of Dulwich Paragon going second – just one second behind the leader – and the final rider, Kate Wootton of Lee Valley Youth CC clinching third with a 1:57. As in the Veterans race, the final went ‘to form’ with Evans leading Hamilton-Love home.
In the Senior Men’s event, it was Charlie Lacaille who opened affairs with a 1:38 which kept him in the hot seat for five minutes until Dan Evans of Assos Equipe shaved 14 seconds off that time to move the target time to 1:25 – just 4 seconds outside last year’s record breaking winning time.
Unsurprisingly, that time would stand for most of the rest of the afternoon – and, indeed, it would be almost 40 minutes before anyone got within 5 seconds of it – Calvin Cheung the first of three riders to clock 1:28 – George Spooner and John Hale the other two. And it was almost an hour after that before Evans’ time finally fell with Rowan Brackston clocking 1:23 to set up a forty minute wait to see whether anyone would beat his time – or the hill record.
Nobody else got within 10 seconds, which set up a head-to-head with Evans – and it was Evans who took the win and the title, passing his rival through the middle of the speed bumps two thirds of the way up the climb.
2017 Pharma Sinclair Urban Hill Climb Results
(c) Tom Oldham