British hill-climb preview

Derbyshire is the place to be this Sunday, as most of the big guns choose to ride the Matlock CC two-stage as their final preparations for the National Hill-Climb Championship the following weekend.

With the county hosting the title race on October 30, most of the main contenders have chosen to make the trip to Starkholmes to tackle the climbs of Riber and Bank Road.

After slashing 18 seconds off the old course record for the Beeley Moor climb in Chesterfield Coureurs’ event last weekend, Gunnar Gronlund (RST Racing Team) will be a hot favourite for victory in this Sunday’s Matlock event, where he is one of 138 riders down to compete.

The day begins at 10am on Riber, where the course record for the 1,196-metre climb is held by Dave Clarke at 3-29.0. Clarke (Endura Racing) rides again this year, but may well see his record fall depending on conditions.

And later in the day at 2pm, the riders tackle the 700-yard Bank Road climb.

Former national champion Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) will also be out for victory on Sunday, while others who will be aiming for a podium finish include Charles Taylor (South Pennine RC) and former national champion James Dobbin (Adeo Cadence RT).

Clinton is down to ride another two-stage event on Saturday, promoted by Yorkshire Road Club. But with roadworks on the usual Arthington Bank climb, riders will tackle two different versions of the Weardley Bank climb.

Once again, Dave Clarke holds the course record for the usual 1,200-yard Weardley Bank climb, but he may see his time of 2-36.4 fall to Clinton if conditions are right.

Another hit tip for the national title is Oxford-based Tejvan Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT), and he completes his preparations over the Pennines in Lancashire on Sunday in the North Lancashire Road Club event on Nick O’Pendle.

The 1,350-yard event near Sabden has just 27 riders, but the top few are quality.

Pettinger, who has racked up several wins already this season including victories in the Weston Wheelers and Bristol South CC events last weekend, is last man off.

But expected to challenge him are Matthew Pilkington (Progressive Cycle Coaching) who was third in the Catford CC event two weeks ago, as well as Team Raleigh’s Richard Handley, who beat Matt Clinton in the Yorkshire RC event on Cragg Vale last weekend.

Finally, Nelson Wheelers get the weekend off to a flying start with their hill-climb on Saturday morning on the 1,620-yard Annals Cross climb in Lancashire.

Team Raleigh’s Mike Cuming is among the favourites, but Blackburn and District CTC have a strong entry including Ian Stott, Carl Helliwell, Dave Collinge and Chris Edmondson.

This weekend’s top events:

Saturday, October 22
Nelson Wheelers – Annals Cross, Lancashire (course L822, 1,620 yards), 10.30am.
Yorkshire Road Club two-stage – Weardley Bank, West Yorkshire (course V8911, 1,200 yards).

Sunday, October 23

Matlock CC two-stage – Starkholmes, Derbyshire (course AHC1 and AHC6, Riber, 1,196 metres, and Bank Road, 700 yards).
North Lancashire RC – Nick O’Pendle, Sabden, Lancashire (course L806, 1,350 yards).