Four riders broke course records in hill-climbs across the country last weekend as preparations for the National Championships in Derbyshire in two weeks continued to gather pace.
After his winning performance in the Monsal Head hill-climb in Derbyshire last weekend, Swedish international mountain bike ace Gunnar Gronlund sliced a whopping 18 seconds off James Dobbin’s seven-year-old mark for the 2.31-mile climb of Beeley Moor in the Chesterfield Coureurs event.
He won the event in 8-23.1 to win by 42 seconds from Doncaster Wheelers’ Rob Watkinson.
Elsewhere, Team Raleigh’s Richard Handley won the Yorkshire Road Club event up Cragg Vale, the 4.81-mile climb which is just a little bit shorter than the course being used for this year’s national title race.
He clocked 15-52.6 to take 27 seconds off Daniel Shand’s three-year-old record, but perhaps more importantly he pushed former Cragg Vale course record holder and national champion Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) into second spot by 18 seconds.
Earlier in the day, Clinton had tasted victory in the shorter Huddersfield Road Club event on Ripponden Bank, where he covered the 1,320 yards in 3-31.8, just three seconds off the course record and good enough for victory by seven seconds.
In was a double winning weekend for Tejvan Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT) who is being tipped for the title by some – and his current form perhaps justifies that confidence.
He sliced 12 seconds off Danny Axford’s old course record for the two-mile Burrington Combe climb in Somerset, recording 6-51.0 to win the Bristol South CC event by 19 seconds from former national champion James Dobbin (Adeo Cadence RT).
And 24 hours earlier he had recorded another impressive victory in the Weston Wheelers event on the 1,979-metre climb of Westclose Hill near Priddy in Somerset.
Oxford-based Pettinger clocked 5-28.3 to win by 26 seconds from Dobbin.
And in Scotland, David Griffiths (Glasgow Wheelers) claimed the course record for the Kingscavil climb when he covered the course in 2-12, beating current Scottish champion Arthur Doyle (Dooley’s Cycles) into second spot.
In Lancashire, Vanilla Bikes rider Jack Pullar won the Lancashire Road Club event on the Rake course at Ramsbottom, clocking 2-30.7 for the 947-yard climb which will be the 2012 National Championship venue.
He won by 11.2 seconds from Southport CC’s Jim Henderson, the former multiple national champion who has evidently been tempted out of retirement by the lure of the hills.
Matt Pilkington (Progressive Coaching) took third spot, just 0.4sec behind Henderson, while Dave Clarke (Endura Racing) was only another 0.1sec slower in fourth.
And in Sussex, Pete Tadros (In Gear-Quickvit RT) got the better of team-mate Will Mangar once again when he won the East Sussex CA hill-climb on Firle Borstal.