Police are hunting a driver who clubbed a cyclist over the head with a steering wheel lock in a "road rage" attack. 

The motorist, thought to be a man in his mid-20s, launched a foul-mouthed rant and attacked Matthew Ballard after the cyclist slowed down at a zebra crossing on his way to a gym in Croydon on Monday night.

Mr Ballard, 26, of South Norwood, said the driver "could have killed" him when he swung the metal pole through the open window of his Vauxhall Astra during an argument in Lower Addiscombe Road at about 8.15pm.

The attack, near the roundabout at Morland Road, happened after the cyclist confronted the motorist for driving too close behind him.

Mr Ballard said: "I was slowing down at the time because there was someone wanting to cross the zebra crossing. So I turned around and said, 'What are you doing mate?' 

"The person crossed the zebra crossing, I went forward and he's come speeding in front of me trying to push me off my bike. I'm saying, 'What the hell are you doing?' and he's mouthing off, swearing."

The driver then produced a yellow metal bar - thought to have been a steering wheel lock - and threatened Mr Ballard with it.

The cyclist said: "I tell him to do one and cycle off, he's let me go and as he's driving past flung his arm out the window with the metal pole and smashed me right in the head.

"Luckily I managed to stay on my bike but he could have knocked me unconscious. He could have killed me. He could have hit me in the wrong place, the temple or whatever, and killed me with a metal pole.

"It's left a massive lump and a little gash. It was painful. Unfortunately I wasn't wearing a helmet that night, I was just wearing a baseball cap." 

The driver sped off towards Addiscombe following the attack, while Mr Ballard continued cycling towards Fit4Less gym in Cherry Orchard Road, where he called the police.

He suffered swelling and cuts to head, but was taken home by officers after paramedics failed to arrive.

Mr Ballard, who cycles to work as resident liaison officer at a Norbury housing estate each day, now plans to buy a helmet camera to protect him on the roads.

He said: "It's the first time I've experienced anything like this. To be hit over the head with a metal pole is just ridiculous."

Police confirmed they had been called to reports of a "road rage attack" and today appealed for witnesses to come forward. 

The driver was a black, bearded man, thought to have been aged about 25.

The section of road where the attack took place is not covered by CCTV.

Anyone with information on the attack or the driver can call the Metropolitan Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously 0800 555 111, quoting reference number 3824085/15.