AN overgeared Matt Clinton had to settle for a gritty third place in the National Hill Climb Championships held on the Rake at Ramsbottom in Lancashire.
On a cold, miserable and windy Sunday, Clinton, who won the event in 2008, misjudged the strength of the breeze and went against his own advice of never ride a fixed gear bike into a head wind and did just that.
On the lower half of the 875 metre climb, the Balsall Common rider, in the colours of Leamington’s Mike Vaughan Cycles, looked extremely smooth but just before the turn to the top steep third at a leg exploding 25 per cent gradient, the full force of the headwind caught him.
Clinton, aged 27, immediately looked over-geared and really struggled to force the pedals round to get to the line, crossing in two minutes 29 seconds, convinced that it wasn’t going to be enough.
And so it proved, Jack Pullar winning in 2:21.3 with last year’s champion Gunnar Gronlund second in 2:26.
Meanwhile Clinton’s Mike Vaughan Cycles team mate Jack O’Neill, aged 17, won the junior section.