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.
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.
2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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.
2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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.
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/SWpix.com
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.
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.
The early break of a dozen.. Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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.
Rootkin-Gray, Richardson and Kyffin lead the way. Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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.
Alex Richardson wins the 2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike – Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. Image: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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.
Wattbike Steps In Alongside Rapha To Sponsor The Lincoln GP
Smart bike company to take presenting sponsorship and Rapha continues title sponsorship for third year, to ensure survival of the British cobbled classic.
The organisers of the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix are delighted to announce that the 2023 edition taking place on May 14 – which will see the event into its 68th year – will be presented by Wattbike.
The Nottingham-based indoor smart bike company has stepped in to support the event as Presenting Sponsor, representing a huge boost to what is the longest established National Series event in the UK.
Cycling lifestyle brand Rapha continues as Title Sponsor for the third year running.
Wattbike will be joining as Presenting Sponsor for the first time. The first Wattbike was developed alongside British Cycling ahead of their record medal haul at the 2008 Olympics. What was once a niche elite training tool has become a common fixture in gyms and homes across the globe, allowing athletes to achieve their goals through smart, structured training, fitness testing and technique tracking. Wattbike will support elite and amateur riders as they train towards the main event.
Rapha, who stepped in to save the event in 2020, have increased their sponsorship investment in 2023 to reflect the reality of rising costs associated with delivering races of this scale.
Gary Coltman, Lincoln GP Organiser said:
“We are absolutely delighted that Wattbike have partnered with the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix. Their passion for the sport and its history is incredible. We are excited about the opportunities to work together to take the race – and particularly the infamous Michaelgate climb to a wider audience. With the heritage of the men’s race and now the well-established women’s race, the event is followed by many thousands of fans not only across the UK but throughout the world. The concept of providing opportunities for those fans to ‘get a little closer’ to the race and in particular Michaelgate, through activations with Wattbike is incredibly exciting and provides so many opportunities for the future.
We are of course delighted and extremely thankful for Rapha’s ongoing support. Their passion for the event is amazing and as anyone who has been there to cheer the riders up Michaelgate will know, the Rapha team fully embrace and support the day’s racing. Their support is so much more than simply putting their name to the event – and that is important because to us, the Rapha Lincoln GP is way more than just an event!”
Rich Baker, CEO of Wattbike said:
“The Lincoln GP has been a cornerstone of the UK racing scene for many years and we're delighted to support the race in its 68th year. When training for a sportive or elite race it's essential to replicate the specific demands of the event through a combination of structured indoor and outdoor training. We're thrilled to support riders in achieving this through both our hardware product and digital software as they ramp up their training towards the big day.”
Dan Blumire, Rapha’s Co-Director, said:
“Racing is in Rapha’s lifeblood, and the Lincoln GP is closely entwined with our early history of sponsoring pro teams Rapha Condor and Team Sky. The national prestige of this race and the spectator friendly nature of the course makes the Lincoln GP the British equivalent of a cobbled classic, and we are proud to commit to another year of title sponsorship to enable the race to continue.
True to the lessons in the Rapha Roadmap, we are continuing to challenge ourselves to find creative ways of making the sponsorship model financially sustainable. This year we will open a pop-up Archive Sale in Lincoln from Friday to Sunday, with profits funding this year’s sponsorship. We can’t wait to return and hear the cowbells ringing all the way up Michaelgate on May 14.”
British Cycling Announces 2023 National Road Calendar
British Cycling can today announce the dates and venues for the 2023 National Road Series and National Circuit Series.
Contested over four rounds for men and five rounds for women, the National Road Series kicks off at the ANEXO/CAMS 7th Women’s CiCLE Classic in the East Midlands, with previous winners including Josie Nelson, Abi Smith, Neah Evans and Katie Archibald.
The series then returns to Lincoln for the iconic Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix, for the opening round of the men’s series and second round of the women’s. The 2023 edition will see a new organiser take over the reins of the prestigious race, following the departures of Dan Ellmore and Peter Odam, who have been integral to the running of the race over recent years and bringing the national championships to the city in 2015 and 2021.