Mt Buller in 39 minutes and 48 seconds.
Mt Buffalo in 48 minutes and 4 seconds. Mt Baw Baw in 28 minutes and 1 second
What do all these times have in common? They’re the white-hot cracking pace set by 22 year old Victorian Matt Clark, back-to-back winner of the 2012 and 2013 Tour of Bright and Mt Buller Road Race and 2013 Baw Baw Classic, and second place in Tour of Toowomba stage two.
Born in the North-east town of Beechworth, cycling – and specifically hill climbing – have been in Matt’s DNA for years. It was around the age of nine that he and his older brother Brad first got the chance to visit the nearby Wangaratta track and ‘give it a nudge’. He never looked back.
Fuelled by his dad’s stories of a bike riding victory way back in the 80s, and fired up by annual pilgrimages to the family television to watch the Tour de France, Matt needed little motivation to get out for a spin. Every chance he got, he’d be on the bike. He’d set his alarm clock early so he could get up and out for a spin before school started.
In Matt’s mind, growing up a country boy really helped his cycling performance – he could be out of town and away from traffic in less than five minutes, and certainly in Beechworth some of the country’s best hill climbs were on his doorstep.
It was during school that he clocked his first win, and realised that he might just have a bit of cycling potential. But that was all put on the back-burner when VCE came around and Matt buckled down to get the grades he needed for university placement.
A move to Ballarat to start his teaching degree saw Matt take to the bike once more. Brad helped him find a local group so that he was never short of new routes, nor of a cycling buddy.
Despite limited preparation Matt came 12th in the 2012 National Titles U23, and cycling fever was well and truly back.
After a roller coaster start to the 2014 season, Matt joined the Avanti Racing Team at the start of May for the Tour of Japan, where he placed 7th on Stage 4 Mt Fuji. The same team then travelled to Indonesia’s Tour de Singkarak, where Matt finished 6th in the hilltop stage (stage 4, 170km, finishing at the top of 'Kelok 44'), and 11th In the final GC, as well as helping the team to two stage wins with Brenton Jones.
2014 is all about improving on the awesome results he achieved last year and going by those podium places, we’re pretty sure this modest mountain goat is about to set an impressive trail.