Report/Reactions/Photos: 2012 Hill Climb Championships

Jack Pullar live sup to his billing as favourite by winning a wet and cold 2012 Hill Climb Championships on the Rake in Lancashire beating last years champion  Gunnar Gronlund (RST Trigon) and another former champion Matt Clinton. 

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The 2012 Hill Climb Championships were held in pouring rain on the Rake (Ramsbottom, Lancs) with Jack Pullar, winner of the big money Hill Climbs in 2012, adding another victory, that of the Men’s Championship, to his unbeaten record.

With the climb lined by a huge crowd, one by one the riders raced up the one in four slopes and even the winner Jack Pullar took ages to recover from the effort of conquering the climb and his rivals. There were so many great rides on the day besides Pullar’s though.

Jack Pullar did not disappoint his team or supporters with victory on the steep slopes of the Rake. The picture tells the story about the crowd… huge!

The podium saw two former champions in second and third, Gunnar Gronlund and Matt Clinton, which shows the strength of the competition for Pullar and only seconds separated them after over two minutes of gut wrenching effort. Outside of the Men’s competition though there was the record breaking ride in appalling conditions by Lynn Hamel and the ninth place by 16 year old James Knox.

The race saw the usual mix of geared bikes and fixed wheels with Matt Clinton saying the headwind did him no favours on fixed while the first two riders, Pullar and Gronlund, both rode single chain rings. Lynn Hamel meanwhile explained that she stuck with double chain ring to play safe and not have the chain come off should she have gone with a single chain ring.

RST Trigon bikes rider Gunnar Gronlund, who was looking for a good performance to try and attract a UCI Continential Team for next year, did just that with second place after a very professional effort.

Plenty of riders were certainly over geared if the zig zagging by some was anything to go but it was interesting listening to Matt Clinton talking afterwards and saying that his geared bike was only a pound heavier and the reason for choosing fixed was simply the better feel.

See the interviews with Matt and those with Jack Pullar, Gunnar Gronlund and Lyne Hamel below:

Jack Pullar: “I am really really happy to have won a national title. I was expected to win but it’s always different at the National Championship as everyone brings their A game. I just went out to do my best. I won on this climb last year so was confident I knew the course and the conditions were similar to last year as well.”

“I went way past what I thought my body could do and then spent twenty minutes afterwards throwing up. I took ages to recover from that because I went so deep. You go a lot further than what you can push your body and you get into so much oxygen debt, you can’t breathe at the end and all you want to do is throw up. It’s a feeling you don’t get in anything else except a hill climb.”

“Any strategy goes out the window when you start racing and the adrenalin takes over and you can’t concentrate on what was planned. I think I went off a bit hard and got to the last 25 meters and thought I had a flat tyre I was going that slow.”

“I ended up in the 25 at the top because of how steep it was and I had nothing else to give. The last 20—25 metres was just horrible. After my wins recently, I knew there was pressure on me to win but when you’re riding, you don’t notice that pressure; it’s just during the build-up.”

Masters A winner Peter Tadros (In Gear Trainsharp) on a fixed gear and good enough for 17th place.

Gunnar Gronlund “I could not have ridden faster today so am happy with the ride. They were not the best of conditions but then I do not mid the rain or cold and was quite happy for it to be grim because it makes the race even harder. The recce I did work perfectly for me. I did a perfect race and got it all out but it wasn’t good enough to win. I take comfort in that I prepared perfectly and the race was good for me too.”

“Jack was stronger than me today and that’s racing. I am happy though to be on the podium”

After the recce on the Tuesday where Gunnar was able to see what gears he was going to need, he chose a 39 front chain ring and a 12-21 block. “In the race though you do ride so much faster especially with the crowd and the adrenalin. I think though I had good gearing for it and certainly nothing to complain about.”

“This sort of climb is a bit too long to go full out from the start so I used the mid section to try and recover, only for three seconds before I went for it again and the final steep part and that seems to be how others rode it. Start quick, try and get some recovery and then attack the last bit”.

“It was fantastic to have such a great crowd especially on a rainy day in late October. It is fantastic and certainly helps. I love riding in front of crowds like this and have their support.”

Gunnar will go back to Sweden during the winter to be with family and friends and then hopefully will be back early next year. “I still haven’t signed for a team yet. The set up I have had with RST this year has been pretty much perfect and I have really enjoyed it and I would love to stay with them for next year as well.”

“The only conflict I have is with myself though. I want to try to progress and do bigger races, race in Europe and that is the only reason I am looking round for a team at the moment.” His current team RST Trigon Bikes, which did a few races in Europe in 2012, are looking at stepping up a level in 2013 and to do that, are also looking at bringing in other sponsors and anyone wanting to get on board with the professionally looking and run outfit can contact Dave Coulson or Chris Walker.


Second in the womens, Joanne Clay Leek Cyclists Club

Matt Clinton: The former champion explained how having been champion before, that gives a rider the confidence to know he can do it again and on the Rake, Matt was only three seconds off silver and just shy of eight seconds off Gold.

“I’ve been up there faster” he said when asked if he was pleased with the result. “That’s the third time I have ridden it on fixed and I have ridden up it twice on gears, the first time in 2005 and fixed is what I know.”

Former champion Matt Clinton, on fixed, and third.

“But, because there was a slight headwind I think it kind of stalled me before I hit the steep section and I did have to push it quite hard and didn’t have quite as much in me at the top. My geared bike is about a pound heavier than the fixed one so it’s not a huge difference but I just like the fact the fixed feels better to climb on in a way.”

“When I did a climb last week, I rode up on the fixed and then rode up on the geared bike and it didn’t feel right. The gradient changes on the Rake normally don’t feel quite severe but I think when you hit the steep section, the headwind made it feel steeper. I did have my geared bike in the car and perhaps I should have ridden it but with it being so steep, you only have to mess up one gear change and it’s over.”

“I’d say this is a tougher climb than Monsal and others. Monsal was a bit short for me and I messed up by trying to go up on the big ring. It is one of my favourite climbs because it’s a tough one. Jacksonbridge and Holme Moss are also really tough climbs which I prefer doing.”

Lynn Hamel “It is a nice feeling to have defended the title successfully. I hit good form in August when I was time trialling and doing some ‘15s’ and stuff and then it carried on from there. I didn’t start the hill training until four weeks before. I have done about twelve climbs during the season and most of them were training climbs and I also did two open hill climbs”.

“Once I got off the line, the first half, right up until the Rake itself, two minutes probably, there was a lot of wheel spin so I didn’t know how I was doing. Then I realised I was going alright because on the Rake, I felt quite quick.”

Lynn like many, had been out to see the climb prior to the race and she explained “ it helps you remember where all the bad surfaces are like the drains, the turns and the wind direction.”

Lynn Hamel in full cry as she won the women’s title and broke her old record for the climb.

Exceptional ride by 16 year old James Knox to finish 9th and first 16 year old and Junior

Ann Bowditch of Guernsey was 3rd in the Women’s

 Robert Gough of the Arctic team was 7th.

Leader for a long time and second junior was Ashley Proctor, 20th overall.

The start of the race was in Ramsbottom town centre.

Jack in relaxed mood before the start with one of his supporters in the Quadzilla t-shirts!


1 Jack Pullar wheelbase MGD 02:21.3 M
2 Gunnar Gronlund RST Racing Team 02:26.0 M
3 Matt Clinton 02:29.0 M
4 Lee Baldwin Buxton CC/Sett Valley Cycles 02:29.5 M
5 Matthew Pilkingron Team B Global 02:30.6 M
6 James Allen Seffrec CC 02:31.4 M
7 Robert Gough Arctic Sram RT 02:32.9 M
8 Glyndwr Griffiths Bristol South Cyclng Club 02:37.5 M
9 James Knox Kent Valley RC 02:40.4 M J 16
10 Richard Cartland Team Corley Cycles 02:40.8 M
11 Adam Kenway 02:40.9 M
12 Dan Evans Rhos on Sea CC 02:41.0 M
13 Tejvan Pettinger SRI Chinmoy Cycling Team 02:41.8 M
14 David Crawley Beacon Whs CC 02:42.2 M
15 Mark Tickle Leigh Premier RC 02:43.2 M
16 Matthew Lawton Macclesfield Whs 02:45.2 M
17 Pete Tadros In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp RT 02:45.4 M 42 A
18 Tony Kiss Rapid Performance Coaching RT 02:45.5 M
19 James Wilson 02:45.7 M
20 Ashley Proctor Sportscover Altura RT 02:45.9 M J 18
21 Nicholas Latimer Rutland CC 02:46.0 M
22 Matt Clarke Halesowen C & AC 02:46.0 M
23 Jonathan Shubert High Wycombe CC 02:47.0 M
24 John Storms Kingston Whs CC 02:47.1 M 45 B
25 Sam Ward Otley Cycle Club 02:47.6 M
26 David Cregeen Biketreks RT 02:47.8 M
27 Matt Steven Zappis CC 02:48.2 M
28 Chris Baines Buxton CC 02:48.2 M
29 Mike Cotgreave Westmead Team 88 02:48.7 M 68 F
30 Thomas Ballhatchet Rollapaluza CC 02:49.8 M
31 David Griffiths Glasgow Whs 02:49.9 M
32 Ryan Mullen Planet X 02:50.4 M J 18
33 Andrew Magnier Nodex 4 Giordana RT 02:50.4 M
34 Aidan Holgate North Lancs RC 02:50.8 M
35 Alistair Robinson Leslie Bike Shop 02:51.0 M
36 Ben Lane GS Metro 02:51.2 M 41 A
37 Paul Jones Bristol South CC 02:51.2 M
38 Josh Ferguson Team Wheel Guru 02:51.6 M J 18
39 Peter Shepherd Harrogate Nova CC 02:51.7 M
40 Harry Shackleton Team Elite 02:52.5 M J 16
41 Adrian Lawrence Team B Global 02:52.6 M 41 A
42 Jack O’Neill 02:53.0 M J 17
43 Danny Axford Arctic Sram RT 02:53.5 M
44 Carl Helliwell Blackburn & District CTC 02:54.1 M
45 Josh Teasdale EFC Omega Pharma Quickstep 02:54.2 M
46 Robert Ormrod Ilkley CC 02:54.9 M
47 Joe Norledge Velo 29 02:55.0 M
48 Ian Stott Blackburn & District CTC 02:58.0 M
49 Tom Ward Team Echelon Rotor 02:58.2 M J 18
50 Ben Simmons Team Wiggle 02:58.4 M
51 John Findley Bill Nickson Cycles RT 02:58.5 M
52 Andy Nichols PCA Ciclos Uno 02:59.4 M
53 Shaun Nicholson 03:00.7 M J 17
54 Michael Askew Lancaster CC 03:00.8 M
55 Tim Bayley Arctic Sram RT 03:00.8 M
56 Daniel Stevens Liverpool Century RC 03:01.3 M
57 Kyle Watts Tyneside Vagabonds 03:01.5 M J 16
58 Andrew Steel Wills Wheels CC 03:01.6 M
59 William Staveley Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High RT 03:02.9 M J 17
60 Chris Green Fibrax-Wrexham RC 03:02.9 M
61 Jamil Gaida Rapha Condor Cyclng Club 03:03.2 M J 16
62 James Bapty Clevedon & District RC 03:03.4 M J 18
63 Peter Greenwood Clayton Velo 03:03.6 M 61 E
64 Neil Blessitt Severn RC 03:03.6 M 54 C
65 Sam Mansfield Buxton CC/Sett Valley Cycles 03:04.1 M J 17
66 Richard Lilleker Cleveland Whs CC 03:04.2 M
67 Paul Roby RT 03:05.7 M
68 Darren Staniforth Condor RC (Calderdale) 03:05.8 M
69 Daniel Eckersley Rollapaluza CC 03:06.1 M
70 Stuart Stirland Edinburgh RC 03:07.2 M
71 Andrew Pearson Huddersfield Star Whs 03:07.6 M
72 Jahan Hunter Ashley Touring CC 03:07.7 M
73 John Hartley North Lancs RC 03:08.0 M 45 B
74 Dave Ebbrell Blackburn & District CTC 03:08.1 M
75 Lynn Hamel Team Herbalife/Leisure Lakes Bikes 03:08.9 M W
76 Paul Armstrong Sheffrec CC 03:08.9 M
77 Michael Ellerton Team Swift 03:09.5 M 51 C
78 Matt Gott West Pennine RC 03:09.7 M
79 Liam O’Toole Sheffrec CC 03:09.8 M J 17
80 Ben Hetherington Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High RT 03:13.3 M J 17
81 John Askew Lancaster CC 03:13.4 M 40 A
82 Adam Hartley Velocity Race Team 03:13.9 M J 14
83 Robert Richardson Bolton Hot Wheels CC 03:13.9 M J 16
84 Craig Gath York Cycleworks 03:14.1 M
85 Andy Leigh Velocity RT 03:14.9 M J 17
86 Christopher Danby Drighlington BC 03:15.8 M
87 Paul Shalliker RT 03:16.3 M 41 A
88 Joshua Fear Taw Velo 03:16.7 M
89 Ian Shapiro Stockport Clarion CC 03:17.4 M
90 Jacob Peatfield Cycle Sport Pendle 03:17.6 M J 16
91 Jerrod Hartley Horwich CC 03:18.0 M
92 Joanne Clay Leek Cyclists Club 03:18.6 W
93 Chris Brewer Velo Club Cumbria 03:18.7 M
94 Lee Cairns Rossington Whs 03:19.0 M
95 Cameron Heritage Holme Valley Whs 03:19.4 M J 15
96 James Tate Manchester Triathlon Club 03:19.4 M
97 Chris Lea Buxton CC/Sett Valley Cycles 03:20.7 M 50 C
98 Dave Collinge Blackburn & District CTC 03:20.8 M 44 A
99 Luke Thomas Ashley Touring CC 03:21.1 M J 16
100 Ann Bowditch Guernsey Velo Club 03:23.4 W W 41 A
101 Steven Horrocks Lancashire RC 03:23.7 M
102 Matt Plews Welland Valley CC 03:23.7 M
103 Noah Godman Severn RC 03:24.5 M J 17
104 Damian Ludlow Rossendale RC 03:25.5 M 40 A
105 Paul Brierly Huddersfield RC 03:26.0 M 45 B
106 Sam Tomlinson Bolton Hot Wheels CC 03:27.0 M J 14
107 Sarah Byrne Cycle Premier Kovert 03:27.3 W
108 Joanne Blakeley Seamons CC 03:27.8 W
109 Ivan Paul Ashley Touring CC 03:27.9 M J 15
110 Tom Clarke Red Rose Olympic 03:28.7 M J 14
111 Joseph Peatfield Bolton Hot Wheels CC 03:30.0 M J 14
112 Cameron Turrner Darlington CC 03:30.1 M
113 Matt Doheny Lancashire RC 03:30.4 M
114 Joe Pinon Shaw Pro Cycle Hire UK RT 03:30.9 M 44 A
115 Graham Brett St Austell Whs CC 03:31.0 M 50 C
116 David Tomlinson North Lancs RC 03:31.9 M 48 B
117 Paul Ashcroft Lancashire RC 03:32.0 M
118 Richie Case Tyneside Vagabonds 03:32.2 M 48 B
119 Philip Malcolm Johnstone Whs 03:33.7 M
120 Warren Gell RT 03:34.5 M
121 Nicola Soden Maxgear RT 03:36.3 W
122 Dougi Hall Border City Whs 03:36.7 M 49 B
123 Danny Walmsley Lancashire RC 03:42.5 M
124 William Belcher Clayton Velo 03:44.5 M 51 C
125 Julian Monk Rossendale RC 03:45.7 M 51 C
126 Sarah Helliwell Blackburn & District CTC 03:48.9 W
127 Nicholas Cooper Rossendale RC 03:49.6 M J 15
128 David Murphy Liverpool Mercury Dolan CC 03:54.0 M J 15
129 Eve Dixon Maxgear RT 03:54.1 W J 18
130 Mick Browne Preston CC 03:55.2 M 54 C
131 Steven Jobson Ribble Valley CRC 03:55.4 M
132 Karen Ledger RT 03:56.9 W 40 A
133 Bronwen Ewing PM Racing Team 03:58.1 W 47 B
134 Kevin Gibbons Border City Whs 03:58.6 M 55 D
135 Brian Jones Westmead Team 88 03:59.5 M 46 B
136 Victoria Ware VC Moulin 04:00.6 W
137 Jonathan Baines Buxton CC/Sett Valley Cycles 04:03.1 M
138 Dawn Sherrin GS Metro 04:07.0 W 46 B
139 Jane Nolan Clitheroe Bike Club 04:10.1 W 48 B
140 Jessica Watts Tyneside Vagabonds 04:21.0 W J 13
141 Corinne Side Bolton Hot Wheels CC 04:26.4 W J 12
142 Jonathan Poole Ashley Touring CC 04:33.3 M 49 B
143 Theo Jeffries Ashley Touring CC 04:45.7 M J 14
144 Joely Side Bolton Hot Wheels CC 05:00.8 W J 14


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