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2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix p/b Wattbike Report

Robyn Clay took the biggest win of her career so far as she triumphed in the Rapha Women’s Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike, taking her maiden National Road Series win in fine style as she soloed to victory up the cobbles of Michaelgate on the final lap.

In the men’s race, Saint Piran carved out a dominant 1-2-3 as Alex Richardson took his second win at the race, ahead of teammates Zeb Kyffin and Jack Rootkin-Gray.

Women’s race

The seventh edition of the Rapha Women’s Lincoln Grand Prix p/b Wattbike welcomed a packed field under cool and misty skies, this second round of the National Road Series continuing the general vibe of being on the cooler side – the joys of Britain in spring.

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2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/

As the field powered its way up Michaelgate for the first time, four riders were visibly pushing the pace, with April Tacey (Lifeplus – Wahoo), Emma Jeffers (DAS-Handsling), and the Shibden Hope Tech Apex duo of Imogen Wolff and Cat Ferguson stringing out the group behind. They were helped, in part, by a minor crash as they ascended for the first time as a mammoth pack tried to squeeze itself thinner in preparation for the climb.

The peloton stayed together in the early laps of the 13km circuit, however, despite the efforts of those pushing up each ascent of Michaelgate. The Shibden pair continued to be visible, kept company by a rotation of DAS-Handsling riders including Lucy Lee, Monica Greenwood and Sophie Thackray. Team Boompods also kept a watching brief. The entrance to Michaelgate continued to cause challenges for those further back, the peloton still large enough that the squeeze from wide asphalt to narrow cobbles meant those too far back were hindered by minor crashes and mechanicals.

With the pack still going strong at the front, a group of roughly 50 riders were in the bunch as it split, with roughly 30 riders starting to drop off the pace as the race tackled Michaelgate for the fourth time. Again, it was Lee who was shepherding the leaders forward but a cast of riders – Tiffany Keep (Hutchinson – Brother UK) on the fourth pass – kept the speed high and wouldn’t let anyone rest for a second.

AW7 9846.jpg2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/

After half distance, with four laps to go, the race elastic finally snapped as five riders – Robyn Clay (Pro-Noctis – Heidi Kjeldsen – 200 Degrees Coffee), the DAS-Handsling pair of Grace Lister and Sammie Stuart, Heather Mayer (Hutchinson – Brother UK) and Team Boompod’s Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne – all broke clear.

The quintet built themselves a handy lead of more than 30 seconds with three to go. With DAS-Handsling also having riders at the front of the chasing group disrupting efforts of an increasingly fractured and diminishing bunch, the race tilted in favour of the breakaway. With two laps to go, the leaders crossed the line with 44 seconds in hand.

With the leading five working hand-in-hand, the chase fell way off the pace on the penultimate lap, staring at a deficit of 1’50” as they took the bell, too fractured to try and mount any sort of challenge to the riders out front.

That five took the last lap as a whole and, as they headed back into Lincoln, it was Michaelgate that proved decisive as Clay attacked up the cobbles and left her rivals trailing in her wake.

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2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England – Women’s Race winner Robyn Clay – Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjelden – 200 Degrees Coffee celebrates. Image: Alex Whitehead/

Ultimately, she took an untroubled run to the line, six seconds over Hodgkins-Byrne who tried to go with her but ran out of energy when push came to shove. Third went to Stuart another eight seconds back on the lead duo.

With a strong seventh place, Monica Greenwood (DAS-Handsling) is the new National Road Series leader, with Clay the best-placed Under-23 rider just two points behind Greenwood. Greenwood’s DAS-Handsling team lead the team standings. Elsewhere, Imogen Wolff won the Ian Emmerson Michaelgate Trophy for her efforts early in the race.


Men’s race

The men’s National Road Series got underway in the afternoon in what were mild conditions under the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral.

On the first lap Ciaran McSherry (The Cycling Academy) and Rory Townsend (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) put in a dig up Michaelgate and created a gap. A lap later, the pair were joined by TRINITY Racing’s Dean Harvey and William Tidball (Saint Piran) as their advantage stretched to a dozen seconds.

The escape was shortlived, however, and by the third ascent of Michaelgate it was all back together, albeit the bunch was fractured as it would its way up the cobbles.

By lap four, a dozen riders had broken clear, the peloton not far behind, running single file as they looked to use the gutters to get some relief from the bone-shaking cobbles.

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The early break of a dozen.. Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/

The leading 12 included all four of the original break and a strong selection of joiners including Finn Crockett (The Cycling Academy), Max Stedman (Private), David Hird (ROKiT-SRCT), Seb Garry (Kalas Motip), Dan Gardner (Embark Spirit BSS), and another three Saint Piran riders – Jack Rootkin-Gray, Zeb Kyffin and Harry Birchill. As they reached lap 5 of 13, their advantage had risen to over 30 seconds.

Despite all that work, it didn’t last and the leaders found themselves swallowed back up into the swirling mass behind. But through it all, Saint Piran maintained a presence at the front as Alex Richardson took up the mantle of driving the bunch forward.

More change at the front followed, as ten riders broke clear, including four from the previous escape – Kyffin, Birchill, Gardner, and Harvey – along with Richardson, Sam Culverwell (Dolan Ellesse Race Team), Matt Fox (Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli), James Jobber (EuroCyclingTrips), George Wood (Cycling Sheffield), Dexter Leeming-Sykes (Wold Top the Edge Pactimo).

The ten then broke apart again a lap later as Harvey and Richardson forced themselves clear, powering through the centre of Lincoln, with James McKay (Cycling Sheffield) and Irish road race champion Townsend now leading a select chase group that also featured Rowan Baker (London Dynamo), Culverwell, Leeming-Sykes, Rootkin-Gray, Birchill and Kyffin.

Kyffin and Rootkin-Gray bridged across to Richardson and Harvey on the next lap, strengthening Saint Piran’s hand yet further. As the men black applied the pressure, Irishman Harvey was starting to be squeezed. There was no time for games though, with the four just 20 seconds ahead with four laps remaining.

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Rootkin-Gray, Richardson and Kyffin lead the way. Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/

Initiative seized, the quartet grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck and wouldn’t let go. The four worked well together – aided by the fact that three were from the same team – and kept a high cadence and pace, not giving the chasers even a sniff of closing the gap as 20 seconds grew to 30 seconds and then beyond a minute.

With Saint Piran turning the front of the race into a team time trial, Harvey found himself overwhelmed. Despite his best efforts, he finally dropped out the back of the lead quartet at the start of the penultimate lap, which meant the win was virtually assured for the Cornish squad.

The trio remained together for the final two laps, giving no indication who would take the win. As they hit the finish line it was almost a formation finish, Richardson punching the air with delight to take his second win at Lincoln, a couple of seconds ahead of Kyffin and Rootkin-Gray.


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Alex Richardson wins the 2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/


Cycling Sheffield’s James McKay was the best of the rest, continuing his brilliant season with 4th, while Townsend was 5th. Townsend’s early efforts rewarded him with the Brian Cossovella Michaelgate Trophy for the best climber in the race.

Meanwhile, Richardson’s win means he is the first recipient of the National Road Series leaders jersey. His team, Saint Piran, are already the runaway leaders of the team standings after a dominant display.

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