Red Bull Hill Chasers: Wiggle's Ben Simmons edges out road.cc's John Whittington + video
Second place for Bristol-born John as fastest qualifier Simmons beats the elites to claim the prize
Bristol's Park Street played host to the second annual Red Bull Hill Chasers event on Saturday night, with the fast and furious hillclimb contested by 16 invited athletes and 16 qualifiers, many of them local riders. In the end it was the qualifiers who won the day, with Wiggle's Ben Simmons taking the win in the final to claim his gold Charge Plug bike. But wait? who's that holding up the silver bike? It's only road.cc reviewer and Bath Uni rider John Whittington!
"Our" John (we're claiming him), who rides for Orbea-CNP was the beaten finalist on the night but got a lot further than he expected. "I was almost out in the first round, enjoying the atmosphere rather than getting in to the racing zone!," he told us. "As the heats went on I was getting the hang of the effort and gearing; opting for the middle ring to 'spin it to win it'"
John's sternest test on the way to the final was to overcome 4X racer and Cobble Wobble winner Lewis Lacey in the semi final. But although Lacey was quick out of the blocks a last minute lunge for the line from John put him in the final against Wiggle-sponsored Ben Simmons. Simmons was the fastest qualifier, and had looked strong throughout; 4X rider Michal Prokop set the fastest time on the night but a broken chain put paid to his chances of the win.
"The final up against Ben and already in the prizes with fatigue setting in, I think I lost my head a bit - he had dominated right from the qualifiers though so the best man won," said John. "It was a great experience racing up a hill close to my heart as a Bristol born boy and I'll definitely hope to do it next year"
Simmons said he was, "shocked and surprised" at his win. "I've never taken part in anything as short and punchy as this before in such a great location. It's so exciting. It's a tough race and I never thought I'd win."