National Hill Climb third for Clinton

Balsall Common’s Matt Clinton recorded his fifth successive podium finish at the National Hill Climb Championships, on Long Hill, just north of Buxton.

The 2011 event was unusual, with the climb much longer (4.4miles) and shallower (3.2 per cent average) than the typical national hill climb and temperatures much warmer than normal.

Bright conditions saw 150 riders take part in the event, with 2008 winner Clinton as the last man off.

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A headwind prevailed across large sections of the climb, most noticeably in the last mile, with the Mike Vaughan Cycles rider fading over the top half of the course to finish in 12min 57.5sec.

The 26-year-old’s time put him just 1.4 seconds behind Raleigh professional Richard Handley, who claimed second, and only 8.5 seconds off the winning time of Swedish professional Gunnar Gronlund.

While disappointed not to have reclaimed the winner’s jersey, Clinton said he could not have done any more.

“I prepared as well as I could have done for the day and got the equipment right,” said Clinton, who rode his Specialized S-Works road bike with aerobars.

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“Even when I’m not in fantastic form before the championships I always seem to pull out a decent ride at the Nationals.”

Clinton’s 15-year-old Mike Vaughan Cycles teammate George Goodwin came 69th overall in 15:26.4, an improvement of 29 places on the previous year.

Team Jewson-MI Racing rider Mick Ives won his 74th British championship with victory in the over-70 category.

Ives clocked 18:17 to beat former Tour of Britain stage winner John Bettison by more than a minute.

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Teammate Phil Astfalck (Kenilworth) finished 101st overall in 16:31.

Meanwhile, Kenilworth’s Darren Atkins and Wellesbourne rider Tim Stowe have been selected to represent West Midlands in the Inter-Regional Team Championship at Milton Keynes.

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