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Tom Bell (High North Performance) stormed to victory in the National Hill-Climb Championship, clocking a new course record time of 3-01.6 for the Winnats Pass climb near Castleton, Derbyshire, on Sunday morning.
The 31-year-old from Holmfirth held off defending champion Andrew Feather (HuntBikeWheels.com) by 6.9 seconds, both of them having broken the previous course record set in 1966 by Peter Greenhalgh.
Third spot went to Andy Nichols (Team Lifting Gear Products-Cycles in Motion) who was another 3.1 seconds back.
The event was sponsored by Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and promoted by Rutland CC and myHillCycling.co.uk on behalf of the North Midlands District Council.
Winnats Pass has been the venue for the National Hill Climb Championships on 10 previous occasions, the first in 1947 but not since 1977. The steep and continuous gradient of Winnats becomes slightly steeper further towards the middle with an average gradient of 16% and maximum of 23%.
Torrential rain made the iconic course even more challenging, although the sun emerged just in time for the presentations.
“My first priority was just to win the race, but the course record was in my mind,” said Bell. “I knew it was going to be a fairly fast day.
“I had done a decent time in training – maybe a 3-09 – but when you’ve got the crowds there and you’ve done a proper warm up you can go a bit better than a training effort.
“It was tricky staying warm at the start with the weather conditions but I just about managed to do that, and then the legs showed up on the day which is always nice.
“The atmosphere was amazing. The crowds got thicker the further you got up and were shouting the whole way up the climb. It was incredible atmosphere. When you’re racing and are off a bit later on you don’t get to experience the atmosphere much itself, but for the brief moment when you ride through it it’s great.”
The men’s team prize went to Lifting Gear Products-Cycles in Motion, with Andy Nichols Kieran Wynne-Cattanach and Alex Raynard with 10-07.0.
Bell and Feather have been top of most people’s list for the National Championship, and so it proved. Bell has only lost three hill-climbs this season, each of those times Feather prevailing.
But on the two occasions Feather has not won it has been Bell who took the win, setting up a fascinating clash at the National Championships on Winnats Pass. Spindata predictions had Bell just edging Feather in the title race, and so it proved.
In the junior girls’ event Spindata’s predicted winner Sannah Zaman (Bigfoot CC) did just that, the 17-year-old clocking 4-44.1 and taking the win from 15-year-old Team Milton Keynes rider Amelia Cebak, while third was Ellie Mitchinson (CC Ashwell).
And in the junior boys’ event Halesowen A&CC rider Tomos Pattinson clocked 3-26.6 to prove Spindata correct once again by taking the win. Second was Tom Williams (Webbs 1902 CC) in 3-31.3, with James Hartley (JRC-Shutt-Ridley) third, 0.9 seconds further back.
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