Clinton fails to hit heights at National Championships

Matt Clinton tackles the Bank Road climb. Picture submitted

Matt Clinton tackles the Bank Road climb. Picture submitted

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Matt Clinton’s 13th consecutive participation in the National Hill Climb Championships ended in disappointment, with the Mike Vaughan Cycles rider finishing 19th, the same position as his debut in 2004.

The Bank Road climb in Matlock, the scene of Clinton’s 2008 National Championship win, attracted a record field of 240 riders on an unusually mild day.

With little wind, conditions were good, with only a slippery surface where Bank Road ramps up to nearly 20 per cent of any concern.

Having ridden the climb the previous week, Clinton had decided to switch back to his geared bike rather than a fixed wheel with the intention of spending the first half of the climb seated and saving power for the steeper top half.

However, while a tough headwind had forced the Kenilworth rider to stand for much of the short version of the climb, losing time over the top, on Sunday the slippery road made it difficult for him to accelerate on the second half.

“I couldn’t fault the bike,” said Clinton, referring to his Trek Emonda SLR bike at just over 5kg.

“I raced it as well as I could. I seem, over the last couple of years, to lose my edge over the steeper climbs.

“I really wanted to make up for being ill and finishing seventh in last year’s championships, but unfortunately this wouldn’t be my day.”

Clinton stopped the clock at 2min 32.9sec, already off the pace of some of the earlier riders.

“I’m slightly disappointed. Not as much as last year where I had pressure on me to set a record of nine consecutive podium places, but disappointed nonetheless.

“I had much less pressure this year and I hoped that I could turn that to my advantage.

“I’ve found it difficult to recover quite as well as I used to, perhaps that’s it.”

Adam Kenway took the win after placing on the podium in 2014, with his ride of 2:18.2 putting him almost two seconds clear of Oxford University’s Isaac Mundy.