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Race Report: Lincoln Grand Prix 2019

All the action - and results - from the UK's road racing monument

This piece was written by Matilda Price. For more of her musings on the domestic racing scene, visit her excellent blog here. And follow her on Twitter here.

The oldest race on the calendar. An icon of British racing. Won by Brian Smith and Malcolm Elliot, Peter Kennaugh and Lizzie Armitstead, both Dean and Russell Downing. Most know Lincoln for its gothic cathedral and historic quarter, but for cycling fans, the city will always be known as home to the thrilling race which has descended on its cobbled streets every spring since 1956. Now in its 64th edition for the men and 5th for the women, the Lincoln Grand Prix has become a stalwart of the National Road Series and always attracts a strong field. The challenging course – which features multiple ascents of the steep, cobbled Michaelgate climb – ensures an exciting, selective race that never fails to produce a worthy victor. With no fewer than six former winners present across the men’s and women’s startlists, as well as all-important Series points up for grabs, the 2019 Lincoln Grand Prix promised to be a hard-fought day of racing.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 12/05/2019 – Cycling – HSBC UK National Women’s Road Series – Chestnut Homes Lincoln Grand Prix

Women’s race report

As the women’s peloton lined up in Castle Square on Sunday morning, all eyes were on Team Brother-Tifosi p/b OnForm, who started the race with series leader Anna Henderson and reigning Lincoln champion Rebecca Durrell in their ranks. Though there were two UCI riders in the form of Pfeiffer Georgi (Team Sunweb) and Lizzie Holden (Drops) on the startlist, it really looked like the British teams’ race to lose with so many on-form riders in the bunch. The sun shone as the peloton headed out of Lincoln into the countryside and towards kilometre zero, ready to race 104km over 8 laps. The pace was fast from the gun, with some riders struggling to hold on before the first lap was complete, and as soon as the riders hit the Michaelgate for the first time, the racing was on. Cresting the climb, the peloton split into several groups with Brother-Tifosi leading the charge. The groups came back together during the following lap, but every time the riders hit the cobbled ascent, they raced it at full pelt. 2018 winner and local rider Durrell was never far off the head of the race when they climbed Michaelgate, with national champion Jess Roberts (Team Breeze) and 18-year-old Georgi always hot on her wheel. Junior Abi Smith (RFDA) was also riding exceptionally well at the front of the bunch, twice picking up maximum climbing points as the first to crest the climb – certainly an impressive effort from the 17-year-old.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 12/05/2019 – Cycling – HSBC UK National Women’s Road Series – Chestnut Homes Lincoln Grand Prix – Rebecca Durrell (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm).

Going into the final 4 laps, a big effort from Joscelin Lowden (Brother-Fusion RT) began to split the race again, carving out an elite group of 20 that was soon whittled down to a leading group of 8, composed of Durrell, Henderson, Georgi, Holden, Roberts, Lowden, Speake (Campinense-Velo Performance) and Knight (Team Breeze). With only 2 laps remaining, these 8 riders had a gap over a chasing group of 12 and with such strength at the front of the race, it looked like the win would come from these leaders.

On the penultimate ascent of the Michaelgate, Holden found herself momentarily distanced as Lowden launched a solo move, trying to turn 2nd place at Klondike into a win in Lincoln. Despite looking strong, Lowden’s advantage was short-lived as the 8 leaders came back together on the final lap. Brother-Fusion RT’s Emma Lewis managed to bridge to the leaders, and the 9 riders’ advantage stretched to nearly 30 seconds over the chasers. As they tackled the Michaelgate for the final, decisive time, it was Durrell who took the race on, leading from the bottom and dropping all but one of her fellow leaders.

The only rider who could follow Durrell was Jess Roberts, fresh off of her Tour Series win on Thursday. Though she was able to stick with Durrell, Roberts didn’t quite have the kick to come round her, and as the duo entered Castle Square it was Durrell who crossed the line first to take her second consecutive Lincoln win. Joscelin Lowden rounded out the podium, coming in 9 seconds down, with Georgi and Speake taking 4th and 5th. Having started the climb all together, the last of leading group finished 36 seconds down, testament to how strong Durrell was in the finale and just how tough the Michaelgate can be.

Durrell’s victory put her in the National Road Series lead, on equal points with Lowden but in the jersey by virtue of the win on Sunday. Brother-Tifosi have also consolidated their lead in the team classification, already 49 points clear of second-placed Brother-Fusion RT.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 12/05/2019 – Cycling – HSBC UK National Women’s Road Series – Chestnut Homes Lincoln Grand Prix – Rebecca Durrell (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm) wins ahead of Jess Roberts and Joscelin Lowden

Men’s race report

Just like in the women’s race, there seemed to be one team to beat as the men’s peloton rolled out of Lincoln, and that was Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes. Among Tim Elverson’s team had two previous Lincoln winners in the form of Tom Stewart and Alex Richardson, as well as former runners-up Andy Tennant and Rory Townsend (the latter wearing the white jersey as leader of the National Road Series). With such a strong line-up and coming off a very successful early season, it was hard to look past Canyon for the win, but there were plenty of riders on the start who were willing to try to better the team in blue.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 12/05/2019 – Cycling – HSBC UK National Road Series – Chestnut Homes Lincoln Grand Prix.

The men’s race got off to a sketchy start as a crash in the neutral zone took several riders out of contention before the race even started proper, and when it did there was some fracturing in the peloton as teams attempted to reorganise themselves ahead of 169km of racing. With the first of 13 laps completed the peloton was largely all together but there was a lot of action on the front as riders tried to forge a gap, as is typical at the start of a race. What wasn’t typical, though, was the size of the group that went – rather than 5 or 6 riders forming an early breakaway, a big group of 28 riders split away from the main field. Several riders began to attack this group to establish a smaller, more conventional breakaway, with Spirit-Tifosi’s Jordan Peacock and SwiftCarbon’s Jake Scott particularly aggressive on the front.

Eventually four riders did manage to break away from the head of the race. Charlie Tanfield (Canyon dhb), John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling), Isaac Mundy (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) and Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother) held a small gap over 5 chasers, whilst the majority of the previous leading group was absorbed back into the peloton. Whilst the 4 leaders maintained a steady advantage of 40 seconds for several laps, it was all change in the chasing group behind which swelled to 11 then 15 riders as several teams attempted to bridge from the peloton to the breakaway. Most visible on the front was Madison Genesis, having missed the breakaway and now sacrificing riders to try and chase it down.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 12/05/2019 – Cycling – HSBC UK National Road Series – Chestnut Homes Lincoln Grand Prix – Madison Genesis. Matt Holmes, Joey Walker, Joe Laverick, Rich Handley

Largely down to the efforts of Madison, the leading quartet was caught going into the second half of the race. After the catch, the attacks started coming thick and fast with the peloton really strung out. Early escapees McGlinchey and Archibald were clearly still feeling good as they found themselves in the leading move again, this time joined by Hennessy (Canyon dhb), and subsequently by Evans (Saint Piran) and two more Canyon riders, Stewart and Richardson. The Canyon trio really set the pace in this group, pushing the advantage out to nearly a minute, at which point chasers Holmes (Madison Genesis) and former Lincoln winner Thwaites (Vitus Pro Cycling) joined the leaders.

Behind, various riders were breaking off the front of the peloton in an attempt to catch the 8 leaders, making it quite hectic on the front of the peloton. Whilst it wasn’t an organised peloton who managed to reel them back in, a big group did manage to join Holmes and co., forming a group of 21 at the head of the race as they entered the final two laps. Archibald and Richardson tried to get away on their own, then joined by Pidcock (Wiggins-Le Col) and Hayter (VC Londres), but they were caught going into the final lap as a group of around 30 riders amassed at the front of the race. Hitting the base of the Michaelgate for the final time, there were still some 17 riders in contention and the finale turned into an uphill mass sprint. It was Tennant (Canyon dhb) and Pidcock who led into the bottom of the climb with the Wiggins rider putting in a huge effort to lead most of the way and really blow up the field, whilst Tennant acted as something of a lead out for team mate Stewart. Despite looking very strong, Pidcock couldn’t take it all the way to the line as Stewart came round him in the final 100m, delivering himself to his second Lincoln win. Tennant held on for 3rd just behind Pidcock, and Holmes and Lampier (Saint Piran) completed the top 5.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 12/05/2019 – Cycling – HSBC UK National Road Series – Chestnut Homes Lincoln Grand Prix – Tom Stewart of Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes wins

With previous Series leader Townsend finishing outside of the points scoring positions, it was 4th placed Holmes who donned the white National Series leader’s jersey at the end of the day – perhaps something of a consolation to Madison Genesis who were definitely hoping for better after a strong Tour de Yorkshire. Madison also lead the team standings, just 6 points ahead of Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes, but Roger Hammond’s squad will certainly be aiming for an individual win when the National Series continues in June.

What We Learnt

  • Brother-Tifosi are here to dominate. As soon as their impressive team roster was announced, expectations were high for Brother-Tifosi. The team recruited several of the UK’s top racers, but there was a small question mark before the season as to how they would actually perform on the road and how the wealth of talent would be managed. There’s no question mark anymore, though, as Brother-Tifosi have already proved they are the one team to beat this season. With a good mix of sprinters, climbers and domestiques in their ranks, as well as a tenacious team spirit and working dynamic, there’s really no race you couldn’t see them winning.
  • Experience is priceless in Lincoln. The Lincoln GP is a race known for having multiple-time winners – two riders have won it 4 times each – and we saw again on Sunday how much experience can help, as both victories came from former winners. Knowing when to attack or when to hold off, knowing how to pace yourself up the Michaelgate, knowing all the twists and turns that deliver you to the line – it’s all a huge advantage riding Lincoln as it’s a race that demands not only strength but also perfect timing and tactical prowess to be able to win it.
  • Predictable? A universal truth about Sunday’s racing is that neither produced a surprising winner, or really a surprising podium. It’s hard to imagine anyone would have bet against Durrell or Stewart – both former winners riding for arguably the strongest teams – let alone be shocked to hear that they both won from a large-ish group sprinting up the Michaelgate. But does this mean the racing was predictable? Does ‘unsurprising’ necessarily equal ‘expected’? Probably not, because with any big British race, there are always several ‘favourites’ and potential race winners on the startlist, but that’s not to say the winner is ever nailed-on pre-race. The truth is, though, that whilst Sunday’s aggressive, active racing was certainly not boring, it was a far-cry from the shake-up we saw last year with Alex Richardson’s solo success, and it was maybe a reminder that these surprise victories are a rarity. But, perhaps this is just the nature of Lincoln – being as tough and iconic as it is, it is a race for the favourites.

Rider of the Day

Though a lot of Sunday’s action was delivered by the big names in the peloton, there were a few real stand-out rides from younger riders, most notably that of Kieran Savage (Cycling Sheffield). Savage put in a really impressive performance to finish 10th among some very powerful riders, certainly no easy feat for a rider on a smaller team with no team mates around him when the final selection was made. 21-year-old Savage has already had a successful start to the season, winning the Roy Thame Cup (Nat B) before spending the day in the breakaway at the Klondike GP, but a top-10 at Lincoln may be his biggest result yet. With his sights on results at the Tour of the Reservoir and the Ryedale GP, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Savage as the season unfolds.

Looking Ahead

May is mainly taken up with the Tour Series, with 6 more rounds between now and 25th May. The National Road Series returns on the 9th June with the new Lancaster GP for the men and the CiCLE Classic for the women, followed by the Women’s Tour where we’ll see Drops representing for Great Britain.

Highlights of the Lincoln GP will be shown on Eurosport 1 at 5.30pm on Thursday, 16th May.

Results – women

11Rebecca DurrellBrother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm2:35:54
274Jessica RobertsTeam Breeze+st
320Joscelin LowdenBrother.uk Fusion RT+9
4119Pfeiffer GeorgiTeam Sunweb+12
585Alicia SpeakeCampinense – Velo Performance+16
69Elizabeth HoldenDrops+21
772Josie KnightTeam Breeze+26
84Anna HendersonBrother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm+31
919Emma LewisBrother.uk Fusion RT+36
10110Eluned KingLiv Cycling Club – Halo Cycles+1:05
1156Abi SmithRFDA+st
1215Jennifer PowellBianchi Dama+1:08
138Emily WadsworthBrother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm+1:11
1426Elizabeth BennettCampinense – Velo Performance+st
152Abigail DentusBrother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm+1:12
1623Claire SteelsBrother.uk Fusion RT+st
176Illi GardenerBrother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm+1:14
1870Anna DochertyTeam Breeze+1:19
1973Rebecca RaybouldTeam Breeze+1:22
2071Jenny HollTeam Breeze+1:25
2169Rhona CallanderTeam Breeze+st
2261Caitlin PetersStorey Racing+1:28
2322Rebecca RichardsonBrother.uk Fusion RT+st
2432Jo TindleyCampinense – Velo Performance+1:34
25123Jayati HineUniversity of Sheffield CC+st
2684Helen RalstonTeam LDN+st
2794Beth Harley-JepsonEdinburgh RC+st
2817Bethany TaylorBianchi Dama+1:37
2928Florence CoxCampinense – Velo Performance+st
3029Jennifer HoldenCampinense – Velo Performance+st
3162Dame Sarah StoreyStorey Racing+st
3239Kate WoottonCycle Team OnForm+1:44
3382Francesca CuttsTeam LDN+st
34126Dannielle KhanBC Private member+st
3525April TaceyBrother.uk Fusion RT+st
3627Charlotte BerryCampinense – Velo Performance+1:46
377Annabel SimpsonBrother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm+st
3880Sophie LankfordTeam Jadan Weldtite-Vive le Vel+st
39108Abbie ManleyHargroves-Montezumas+st
4060Chanel MasonStorey Racing+st
4131Soraia SilvaCampinense – Velo Performance+1:49
4288Katharine SmythCycling Ulster+1:51
4313Holly MacMahonBianchi Dama+1:56
44104Gwenno HughesWestland Wil Vooruit+st
4559Lucy GaddStorey Racing+1:58
4686Eileen BurnsCycling Ulster+2:04
4747Nicole OhLes Filles Racing Team+2:08
4863Jennifer BateyTeam Boompods+2:11
4930Fiona Hunter JohnstonCampinense – Velo Performance+st
5021Molly PatchBrother.uk Fusion RT+2:29
5179Christina WiejakTeam Jadan Weldtite-Vive le Vel+7:40
5265Hannah LarbalestierTeam Boompods+7:51
5392Polly MasonDAP Cycling Club+7:53
5475Marie LynnTeam Jadan Weldtite-Vive le Vel+7:57

Results – men

14Thomas StewartCanyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes3:47:29
238Thomas PidcockTeam Wiggins Le Col+2
36Andrew TennantCanyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes+4
412Matthew HolmesMadison Genesis+9
591Steve LampierSaint Piran+st
6150Ethan HayterVC Londres+14
747Alistair SlaterVitus Pro Cycling  p/b Brother+st
830Jacob ScottSwiftCarbon Pro Cycling+17
926Isaac MundySwiftCarbon Pro Cycling+st
1068Kieran SavageCycling Sheffield Giant Sheffie+20
119Ian BibbyMadison Genesis+23
122Jacob HennessyCanyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes+st
13137Russell DowningGiordana Racing+st
1486Joseph SuttonRichardsons-Trek RT+25
1588Joe EvansSaint Piran+st
1692Oliver MaxwellSaint Piran+st
17148Matthew WallsTeam Inspired+st
1816Joey WalkerMadison Genesis+st
1997Rupert GrahamSpirit Tifosi Racing Team+st
2023Mark StewartRibble Pro Cycling+32
213Alex PatonCanyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes+33
2218Scott AuldRibble Pro Cycling+39
2336Ben HealyTeam Wiggins Le Col+40
241Alexandar RichardsonCanyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes+56
2533Lawrence CarpenterTeam Wiggins Le Col+1:04
2622Alex LuhrsRibble Pro Cycling+1:15
2737Michael OLoughlinTeam Wiggins Le Col+1:21
2869Louis SzymanskiCycling Sheffield Giant Sheffie+1:33
2985Theo ModellRichardsons-Trek RT+2:04
30145Andrew NicholsTeam B38 / Cycles In Motion+2:14
3157Jonathan FowlesCrimson Orientation Marketing R+2:16
3283Rhys HowellsRichardsons-Trek RT+2:17
33122Harry HardcastleWheelbase CabTech Castelli+2:19
3481Peter CockerRichardsons-Trek RT+2:21
3578William PerrettLeisure Lakes Bikes.com+st
3656Jonathan BridgeCrimson Orientation Marketing R+2:23
3748Scott ThwaitesVitus Pro Cycling  p/b Brother+2:31
38152Oliver W BatesFlamme Rouge Cycling Team+2:32
3973Lindsay WatsonCycling Ulster+2:36
4049Felix BarkerActiveEdge Race Team+st
417Rory TownsendCanyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes+st
4244Christopher McGlincheyVitus Pro Cycling  p/b Brother+st
43114Bradley SymondsTeam PB Performance+st
4435Jacques SauvagnarguesTeam Wiggins Le Col+st
455Charlie TanfieldCanyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes+st
4652Oliver PeckoverActiveEdge Race Team+st
4741Joe HoltVitus Pro Cycling  p/b Brother+st
4843Dylan Kerfoot-RobsonVitus Pro Cycling  p/b Brother+st
49136William ScottFlamme Rouge Cycling Team+st
50104Dillon CorkeryTeam Bioracer-DHL-FR Services+st
5171Darnell MooreCycling Ulster+st
52119Matthew ClarkeWheelbase CabTech Castelli+st
5390Cameron JeffersSaint Piran+st
5417John ArchibaldRibble Pro Cycling+st
5542Christopher LathamVitus Pro Cycling  p/b Brother+2:42
5693Matthew NowellSaint Piran+2:44
5780Matthew ClementsRichardsons-Trek RT+st
5821Gruffudd LewisRibble Pro Cycling+st
5939Corentin NavarroTeam Wiggins Le Col+2:49
6098Leon MazzoneSpirit Tifosi Racing Team+st
6111Richard HandleyMadison Genesis+2:51
6284Luke RyanRichardsons-Trek RT+st
6346Frederik ScheskeVitus Pro Cycling  p/b Brother+3:40
64130Damien ClaytonAndy Moore Autocentres Racing+4:33
6574James CurryCycling Ulster+4:37
6632Andrew TurnerSwiftCarbon Pro Cycling+5:03
67138James IresonMorvelo Basso+6:21
68102David BollandTeam Bioracer-DHL-FR Services+6:22
6920Alex DaltonRibble Pro Cycling+6:27
70112Josh HousleyTeam PB Performance+6:32
7150George EvansActiveEdge Race Team+6:38
7263Jake WomersleyCrimson Orientation Marketing R+6:43
73142Ben JoughinPro Vision Race Team+st
7425Ben HardySwiftCarbon Pro Cycling+6:48