Reigning champion Illi Gardner (Wahoo-Le Col) sliced around 17 seconds off the women’s course record on her way to victory in the 2023 national title race on The Struggle near Ambleside in Cumbria on Sunday.
Gardner, 24 and from Cardiff, clocked 15-03 for the 2.67-mile climb to take victory by 59 seconds from team-mate Lizi Brooke, while third was Abi Plowman (Jadan Vive le Velo), a second further off the pace.
Fourth spot for previous course record holder Frances Owen ensured Wahoo-Le Col took the women’s team prize too.
The event was staged by Lakes Road Club and Barrow Central Wheelers, and was longer than your typical hill-climb, and with an average gradient of eight per cent and a maximum gradient of an eye-watering 24 per cent.
“I’m very pleased with that,” said Gardner. “I had done a pre-ride earlier in the season and done around 15 minutes, so I just wanted to do the same again.
“Conditions were kind to us. Luckily it wasn’t raining during the event but it was quite chilly so I wore long sleeved jersey and wasn’t too aerodynamic!
“I hadn’t looked at the forecast the week before, but I understand it was for a headwind. There wasn’t too much wind in the end though.
“I stood up at one point and had a massive slip because the surface was a bit damp even though it wasn’t raining. But luckily that was my only slight error and I didn’t lose too much time there.
“It’s nice to win the team award too, we only had four riders but all did really well.”
Gardner will now head to Portugal for a holiday, and added: “I’m looking forward to a bit of a break. Next year I fancy the European Hill-Climb Championships, and the National Championships is on a shorter course so that should be fun.”
In the veteran age group categories, the fastest 40-44 female was Gemma Sargent (Team Boompods) with 18-55, 1-18 better than Hayley Mcewan (Vanelli Project Go) with Kamila Leska (Welland Valley CC) third in 22-09.
The 45-49 category was won by Helen Jackson (Kendal CC) with 17-43 which was overall fastest of all the veterans, with Victoria Wilkinson (Kendal CC) second and Celia Brown (Elevate RT) third.
Sarah Wilkinson (Blaydon CC) was fastest 50-54 by over two minutes from Sarah Harrison (Trek Sheffield) while Louise Johnson (Liverpool Phoenix CC) was third.
The 55-59 category went to Wiebke Rietz (1st Chard Wheelers) with 21-45 which was 16 seconds better than runner-up Sally Maitland (Ratae RC), with Susie Kirkham (Blackpool Clarion CC) third.
Top 60-64 female veteran was Janet Le Luan (Carlisle Reivers CC) in 22-32, with Deborah John (The Racing Chance Foundation) second. Sally Cunliffe (Velotik Racing Team) clocked 23-19 to take the 65-69 award, while the female 70-74 award went to Margaret Docking (Ruthin CC) with 29-39.
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