Cycling: Clinton racks up impressive wins in build up to National Champs

Matt Clinton attacks tough ascent in front of impressive crowds

With the National Championships fast approaching, Balsall Common’s former National Hill Climb Champion, Matt Clinton, ramped up preparations riding for Mike Vaughan Cycles in three events across Yorkshire and Derbyshire last weekend.

Saturday morning kicked off with damp, drizzling conditions on the 1.3mile, 10% average ascent of Holme Moss hosted by Holme Valley Wheelers on a climb which often has to be cut short due to visibility issues caused by low cloud. Luckily this event was unaffected allowing the full course to be used, with Matt clocking the fastest time of the day, 6 min 46s, some 25s ahead of Welshman Dan Evans in second place.

A few short hours later Matt could be found at start of the classic Huddersfield Star Wheelers event at Jackson Bridge, one which Matt has won on two previous occasions, an even which this year drew larger field for the tough climb. Though not as long as Holme Moss, Jackson Bridge changes gradient several times and has a nasty sting as it ramps up to the finish line. Once again, showing some form starting to come through, Matt scorched the damp, though tailwind-assisted course in a time of 4 min 17s, slower than his last win in 2009 where he clocked 4-09, but fast enough to beat Dan Evans once again by 18s.

Sunday would set the scene for Sheffrec CC’s Monsal Head hill climb in Derbyshire, a full 120-rider field with a huge crowd made a spectacle of the event, where the record is only 1min 14s! An extremely short course, where no mistakes could be afforded; as former National Champion, Matt was rider 120. Confident extra speed would stop wheelslip as in his practice ride up the climb, the gearing choice proved to be too big, with Matt struggling to keep his back wheel on the floor. Ultimately, the shortest climb Matt has ever ridden found him finishing in a rare fourth place, with Swedish full-time rider Gunnar Grunland taking the win in a fine 1-26, with Matt clocking 1-29.

Matt now looks ahead to two more weekends of honing form before attacking the National Championships on the 30th October.