LEAMINGTON pair Matt Clinton and Jack O’Neill had a busy weekend as the hill climb season got under way in Yorkshire.
The Mike Vaughan Cycles duo travelled to Huddersfield on Saturday for the Star Wheeler’s Jackson Bridge event, which was hosted on the same course as the National Championship and attracted its biggest ever field of 96 riders.
Three former National Champions and reigning champion, Dan Evans, took to the course and it was O’Neill who demonstrated his improvement again this year by taking 12th position in 4 minutes and 33 seconds, some 20 seconds faster than last year’s time.
Clinton was a little off the pace but still managed to finish fifth, 11 seconds ahead of his team mate, with Dan Evans taking the win in 4 minutes and 11 seconds.
Both riders were back in action on Saturday afternoon for the just a few miles up the road for the Holme Valley Wheeler’s Holme Moss Hill Climb.
A total of 60 riders took to the field on what was a longer and more challenging course.
O’Neill put in a superb performance by storming up the climb in 6 minutes and 43 seconds which secured fourth place overall and he was just 13 seconds behind Tejvan Pettinger in third position.
Evans once again took the win in 4 minutes and 12 seconds, while Clinton was forced to pull out after breaking his chain in the warm up.
The biggest test of the weekend came in Cheshire on Sunday with both riders taking part in the Lyme RC’s Mow Cop event, infamously known as ‘The Killer Mile’ as the gradient rears to over 25 per cent on the last 200 metres of the course.
Clinton fell five seconds short of his time of 4 minutes and 20 secons in 2014 but he was still able to claim second place.
And once again O’Neill produced another personal best time of 4 minutes and 42 secons to take fifth place. Joe Clarke to first position by breaking the course record to win in 4 minutes and 12 seconds.
Reflecting on the weekend, Clinton said: “It’s great to see such progression from Jack.
“We’re both using these climbs to test our legs, some of these guys have been hill climbing for weeks now – we’re only getting started.
“Everyone else knows I peak for the National Championships, I might perform below par before hand, but it’s on the day that matters. We’re just getting started with Jack – watch this space!”