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2017 National Hill Climb Championship


It's a wet one. Gusts in gales and horizontal rain from the west. On a narrow strip of road cutting through farmland between Gort and Loughrea, early risers in vans arrive to set up tables and gazebos. One at the bottom, one at the top, held down with stones borrowed from a wall. Cycling Ireland banners are cable-tied to gates.

In the local GAA grounds, hurlers of the potent St. Thomas' club gather for Sunday training, while inside the hall tinfoiled plates of sandwiches are laid out and the first cyclists arrive from the four provinces to sign on. A line of medals are aligned on a table. Rollers and turbo trainers being to hum as the warmups begin.

The accepted challenge is the 'Scailp' climb, a little-known pot-holed back road tester that kicks up to tyre-slipping 17 or 18% gradients shortly after leaving the main road (N66). At about a mile long, it is short, rough, tough, plastered with wet leaves, split down the middle by healthy wedges of grass, and has been swiftly converted into the arena for the 2017 National Hill Climb championship.

It is a test against the clock and the slope, a short fullgas eyeballs-out lungburster. The rainslicked early 'wall' makes it hard to get into a rhythm, while the flatter final drag can technically be sprinted in the big ring, if the legs are not already fully sapped. If the world's top pros had a go, maybe it would suit a Gilbert, an Alaphilippe, or a fast finishing Martin-pipping Valverde: not long enough for the skinny mountain goats, and maybe too steep for heavier powerhouses.

The thick rain slowly peters out as the first riders line up to begin. From 11:45, in one minute intervals, they are released into the climb, disappearing up into the rising road and scattering leaves.

A couple of hours later, everything is gone- riders, timers, gazebos, national titles, strava KOMs. Only two faint start and finish lines remain scratched into the ground. The fastest time of the day registers at just 4:09, barely the length of a song.

Full Results

Elite Men
1 Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles)
2 Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sports)
3 Conor Kissane (Killarney Cycling Club)

1 Ethan Downey (Clann Eireann)

1 Cliona Murray (Covey Wheelers)
2 Michelle McKinney (Galway Bay CC)

Masters 40
1 Dermot Radford (Tipperary Wheelers)
2 John Lee (Trim CC)
3 Ali Gribbon (Carn Wheelers)

Masters 50
1 AJ Murphy (Middleton)
2 Michael Corkery (De Ronde van Cork)
3 John Kissane (Killarney)

Masters 60
1 Jimmy Flynn (Cuchulainn CC)
2 Sean Hargan (Phoenix CC)
3 To
m Daly (Killarney)

Galway Bay Club Riders
1: A
lan Cunningham
2: Valerio Di Bacco
3: Calum Kenny

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