Muckle CC’s Matthew Smith powered to victory in the Allen Valley Velo hill-climb in Northumberland on Sunday morning, while quickest female was Blaydon CC’s Sarah Wilkinson.
33-year-old Smith clocked 11:01.4 for the MH24 course, which was being used for the first time. A course record was therefore guaranteed and gives riders something to aim for in future events.
That time gave him the win by just over 39 seconds from Graeme Wardale (South Shields Velo), while third spot overall went to Smith’s team-mate at Muckle CC Ben Wilkinson with 11:44.6 – just four seconds behind Wardale.
With just three women entering and only two riding Wilkinson’s victory meant that her veteran team-mate Angela McGurk was second female. 51-year-old Wilkinson’s time of 13:06.7 gave her a new women’s course record for the 2.5-mile climb near Allendale, just over two minutes better than McGurk.
Despite surprisingly warm temperatures for the time of year the riders battled a difficult headwind on reaching the open moorland that surrounds the final mile of the course, which left many gasping for air on crossing the finish line.
Smith’s victory comes after a long rehabilitation following a crash in 2017. He has dipped his toe in the water again this season with second spot in the North Tyneside Riders’ event on Winter’s Gibbet on September 12, as well as fifth in GS Metro’s climb of Hedley on the Hill last weekend.
“This completes a four-year rehabilitation and it felt great just to be back racing again,” he said.
“To come away with a win is more than I hoped for, but in the back of my mind, I always believed it might be possible again. This course was a new one and with the strong headwind it was a difficult one to pace. I doubt whether my course record will stand for very long!”
Following his victory in this Allen Valley Velo event, he will be hoping to have his entry accepted for the Sheffrec CC climb on the iconic Monsal Head on October 3.
Wilkinson has tasted hill-climb victory already this season, having been fastest female on Winter’s Gibbett in the North Tyneside Riders event two weeks ago. And last weekend she was third in the tough Great Dun Fell event staged by Beacon Wheelers.
Next on her calendar is the Sunderland Clarion CC Silver Hills climb next Sunday, before she hopes to tackle Peth Bank and the new Muggleswick Common climbs the following weekend.
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1 Matthew Smith (Muckle CC) 11:01.4
2 Graeme Wardale (South Shields Velo) 11:40.8
3 Ben Wilkinson (Muckle CC) 11:44.6
1 Sarah Wilkinson (Blaydon CC) 13:06.7
2 Angela McGurk (Blaydon CC) 15:14.9
Veteran: Graeme Wardale (South Shields Velo) 11:40.8
Juvenile: Euan Dinning (Gosforth Road club) 12:26.9