The stage is set for a thrilling battle on in this year’s National Hill-Climb Championship up Pea Royd Lane on Sunday, October 25.
Defending champion Matt Clinton (MikeVaughan.co.uk) enters the race as the big favourite. Last man off, the 24-year-old has enjoyed excellent form this season, winning on numerous occasions.
The only man to beat him is Daniel Shand (West Pennine RC), clocking faster times on the climbs of Holme Moss and Cragg Vale in the last couple of weeks. The youngster, back from a year in Belgium, will be a contender.
However, the biggest threat could come from Cervelo Test Team rider Dan Fleeman, who will be hoping to convert his good form at the Tour of Lombardy into victory on Sunday.
“I’ve been wanting to do the national hill-climb for three or four years now, but every year my schedule saw me finishing racing too early – last year, it was the Tour of Britain in September. However, Lombardy was only six days ago,” Fleeman explained.
Though an infrequent racer on the UK scene, the 27-year-old has an unbeaten record in hill-climbs – he won the only two he’s ever entered, doing the Catford-Bec double back in 2007.
Pea Royd Lane should prove a worthy battleground, the 1200-yard climb in Stockbridge home to several nasty pitches of twenty-percent gradient. “I’ve seen the Youtube video and it looks pretty steep. It’s good for me, though the longer the better really,” Fleeman said.
“It’s only 150 miles shorter than Lombardy!” he added.
Five-time national champion Jim Henderson (Southport CC), two-time winner James Dobbin (Arctic Shorter Rochford RT), Dave Clarke (Pendragon) and Charles Taylor (South Pennine RC) are also expected to challenge for victory.
Meanwhile, Team NCA rider Lynn Hamel is hotly tipped to defend her women’s crown.
First rider off in the Thurcroft CC-organised event is Tom Bailey at 11.01am. Riders then set off at one-minute intervals until last man Clinton.
Riders to watch
100 Alistair Kay (York Cycleworks) 12.40
124 Lynn Hamel (Team NCA) 13.04
130 Danny Axford (Arctic Premier RT) 13.10
134 Dan Fleeman (Cervelo Test Team) 13.14
135 David Clarke (Pendragon Kalas RT) 13.15
139 Charles Taylor (South Pennine RC) 13.19
140 Jim Henderson (Southport CC) 13.20
141 Owain Lovell (Ashfield RC) 13.21
144 Adam Pinder (Blackburn and District CTC) 13.24
145 James Dobbin (Arctic Premier RT) 13.25
146 Daniel Shand (West Pennine RC) 13.26
149 Ian Taylor (NFM Racing Team) 13.29
150 Matt Clinton (MikeVaughan.co.uk) 13.30
For a full start-lisit, visit http://snipurl.com/sopqa.