Second last year, Chris Fennell (Thanet RC) will be aiming to go one better when he rides the National Closed Circuit Championships at the Thruxton circuit in Hampshire on Sunday morning.
Fennell, who was beaten by eight seconds by Brett Harwood in last season’s title race, is last man off in a quality field. Third last year, Dean Robson (Somerset RC) returns to tackle the 2016 event.
Just over 200 have entered the men’s event, with many top names down to ride including David Crawley (Velotik), George Evans (Team Bottrill), Alistair Wareham (SSLL Racing Team) and Jamie Pine (Nuun-Sigma Sport) to name just a few in a wide-open event.
Similarly, Mel Wasley (Elsom CC) was second last year and will be aiming for the top step of the podium when she rides the 2016 National Close Circuit Championships.
With 2015 winner Sarah Storey not riding, this year’s event looks wide open with 2015 bronze medallist Claire Rose also not competing this time.
A total of 39 women are down to ride, while 73 juniors and juveniles will also be in action.
For the first time in several years, Dovers Hill in Gloucestershire will stage an open time trial as Stratford CC promote their event on Sunday morning.
Several contenders for the National Championship at the end of the month will be in action on the 1,487-yard climb, which has an average gradient of around nine per cent.
Reigning national champion Richard Bussell (AeroCoach) is last man off, while former national title holders who will aim to challenge him include Tejvan Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT) and Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles), while also pushing for a spot on the podium will be in-form Glyndwr Griffiths (73 Degrees Bicycles).
Conditions will need to be near perfect in they are to challenge the course record, which is the 3-25 set by Jim Henderson in the 1998 National Championships.
Elsewhere, the Chesterfield Coureurs hold a 2.31-mile climb on Beeley Moor in Derbyshire, where Adam Kenway (Metaltek-Kuota) and Chris Dyke (Manchester BC) are among the top names riding.
Dyke will also be in action the day before, as he is down on the startsheet for the Nelson Wheelers’ climb at Annals Cross near Barley in Lancashire.
Also on Saturday, Glyndwr Griffiths (73 Degrees Bicycles) is among a good entry for the university of Bristol’s climb on Belmont Hill near the city. George Fowler (NFTO Pro Cycling) is also down to ride.
Last year’s university hill-climb champion, Kieran Savage (Team B38-Underpin Racing) is down to ride the Drighlington BC climb of Scotchmans Lane near Batley, West Yorkshire, on Saturday. And he will then travel to Beeley Moor to challenge for the honours in the Chesterfield Coureurs event.