Preview + video: National Hill Climb Championship
The UK's top climbers to battle it out tomorrow in Matlock
The UK National Hill Climb takes place today in Matlock, Derbyshire.
The course has recently been resurfaced to a smooth Tour de France style finish so times should be fast. Here are the stats:
Halfway: south, downhill side of Smedley Street.
Maximum gradient: 20% just north of Smedley Street
Average gradient: 14%
The roads are closed for the event between 11:40 and 2.40 in the afternoon and the first man off is at 12.01 (actually the first "man" off is a woman, Christine Howard of Matlock CC).
This year's event has the natty strap line "150 riders, One hill, One winner! So, who will it be?
Smart money for the individual title is likely to be on one of the trio of riders who who took the top spots at last year's championships. Bath-based James Dobbin (Arctic Premier RT) won last year at Cheddar which pretty much counted as home turf, the thinking is that the longer Cheddar course suited him and this year's short, sharp blast may favour David Clarke (2nd in 2007) and who is from Derbyshire, or Matt Clinton - the form man of the moment who was third last year.
For what it's worth, here's our two penn'orths: don't rule out Dobbin. Cheddar is an untypically long, shallow climb for these parts where most of the hills are shorter and steeper, most of the hills around Bath fall in to that category, except for the ones that are long and steep.
For more details on the event and to see the start sheet go to the RTTC website.
Check out road.cc later for a report and pics.