|NATIONAL Hill Climb Championship|
DARRYL WEBSTER (Manchester Wheelers-Trumanns) brushed aside what had appeared to be a major threat to his title when he won the national hill climb championship on the 2.65-mile Crawleyside course at Stanhope, Co. Durham, yesterday.
Steve Marchant (South Eastern RC), a winner of three events in the South the previous weekend and No. 40 to start in yesterday's 120-strong field, was the first rider under 10 minutes with an impressive 9-28-8.
He retained his place at the head of the leader board for 80 minutes, and a cliffhanger finish looked likely as last-man-off Webster bettered Marchant's half-way time by a single second.
However, the Olympic rider turned on the power on the final, shallower section of the course to beat Marchant by exactly 10 seconds, a stiffening wind possibly giving him a slight advantage over his early rival
Another surprise was the bronze medal of first year senior Karl Smith (Clayton Velo), another roadman who, after being more than 10 seconds down on Marchant at half-way, pulled up to finish 3-6 seconds in arrears as Olympic track rider Paul Curran (Manchester Wheelers) slipped back to fourth in 9-43-8.
Webster took over half a minute off the course record set only 15 days earlier by Callum Gough (Thanet RC), who was out of the reckoning yesterday in 10-01.6.
Gough was one of several seeded riders - including three members of the Manchester Wheelers squad - who failed to show as well as expected.
Peter Longbottom, who had been strongly fancied on this course, could manage only 10-08.2 and was pushed out of the winning Wheelers team behind Curran and Webster's young brother Martin (10-03.0). Rob Holden and Will Mansfield, the junior internationals who have been vying for honours with Webster in the build-up to the championship, recorded 10-20.4 and 10-21.0 respectively.
1. D. Webster (Manchester Wheelers) 9min 18.8sec
2. S. Marchant (South Eastern RC) 9-28.8
3. K. Smith (Clayton Velo) 9-32.4
4. P. Curran (Manchester Wheelers) 9.43.8
5. S. Gilchrist (GS Stada) 9-44.4
6. I. Jones (Wrexham RC) 9-51.8
Team: Manchester Wheelers 29min 5.6sec.