One of the most open fields for years will line-up for the National Hill-Climb Championships in Derbyshire on Sunday.
Few people would dare to predict the winner of Sunday’s event on Long Hill, promoted by Buxton CC. Not least because it is one of the longer courses used for the title race at 4.44 miles and might favour time triallists rather than pure climbers, but also because results from across the country over the last two months have shown a number of riders capable of winning.
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Ten wins from ten events is an impressive record, and for 34-year-old Oxford rider Tejvan Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT) that form has marked him out as a potential winner. But the man himself is less confident.
“It has been a good season for me undoubtedly, but it’s always hard to know what is going to happen at a national championships.
“There are a lot of good riders taking part, especially Michael Hutchinson, Gunnar Gronlund (RST Racing Team) and Richard Handley (Team Raleigh). This course favours a certain type of rider, it’s long and very shallow, so it may favour a certain type of rider.
“I got the course record last year with a tail wind, and I won an event on that course this year with a headwind, so who knows what will happen? And Matt Clinton is very good at peaking for the nationals, so I wouldn’t like to call it.”
But Hutchinson (In Gear-Quickvit RT) doesn’t share Pettinger’s view.
“It’s a great atmosphere and it’s fun to ride, but it’s not really my type of event,” he said. “If I get in the top 10 or 12 it will be a good result. I just hope I can do a job for the team and help people like Will Mangar and Pete Tadros get the team prize.
“I’m not just talking myself down, but I really don’t think Tejvan is right!”
Former champion Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) could have the balance about right between climbers and triallists, having shown his prowess at both in recent months.
“I can time trial, but I climb as well so I’m hoping it will work out OK,” he said. “I’ve had some good time trial results this year.
“I don’t think I’ve been going any worse than I have in the past, but the competition seems to have stepped up with people Pettinger and Gronlund who are flying, but it can be a very different story on a long climb like this.
“I could predict the top five, but I wouldn’t know what order they will be in. That’s the really difficult thing this year.”
British national hill-climb championships 2011
When: Sunday, October 30 2011
Where: Whaley Bridge, Buxton, Derbyshire
First rider off: 11.01am