2014 Race Report

The race started as usual at the Yarborough Leisure Centre with a full field of one hundred and sixty riders taking the start. There was a short delay as last minute safety and radio checks were carried out then the racing got started proper as the riders hit Burton Road. Perhaps encouraged by the early sunshine and the enthusiastic crowds there were attacks straight away as a few overly brave riders tried to get an early jump on the peleton. The big teams of Endura Racing, 100% ME, Rapha Condor Sharp and Team Sigma Sport amongst others were keen to show they meant business and closed down any attempts to cause an early split. The strong crosswind caused the peleton to seek safety in numbers in the first few laps of the race with no one ready to put in a concerted effort to break away. After two laps however the race had split into two big groups with about eighty riders taking the race on and the other half perhaps just thinking about the finish and the ten more climbs of the one in six cobbled Michael Gate climb. This year with the race back up to it's full distance of one hundred and two miles with the lost two laps reinstated this years race would call on the strongmen to try and break the spirit of the other challengers for the title. Kristian House last years winner of the Brian Cossavella King of the Hill trophy was in fine form again and he charged up the climb always in the first few riders over the line and had secured his title for the second year running with several laps still to go, but his mind was also firmly set on taking the big prize and along with many of the race favourites he stuck to the front of the field and left many of the others struggling in his wake.  As the laps counted down a few small groups kept jumping off the front of the race with Russell Downing a three times previous winner, Kristian House, Simon Richardson, Russell Hampton, Marcin Biaboblocki and the other team leaders making it look easy. It seemed at one point that some of the attacks would succeed but with the 100% ME team not making any of the breakaways they fought valiantly to close the gaps and at halfway they had reeled in the escapees and some forty riders were all still in with a chance. As the crowds in Castle Square grew and cheered on their favourites a group of some twenty three riders started the winning move with the early movers joined by a hard working Scott Thwaites, last years winner, Matt Cronshaw, Dean Windsor, Richard Lang and David McGowen and Andy Tennant an Olympic pursuit gold medal hopeful joining forces to take the break out to nearly two minutes. With four to go Russell and Kristians pace was relentless and their efforts were cutting the leading group to ribbons with everyone chasing to hold a wheel and keep up with the on form Premier Calendar riders.
Out on the back of the circuit four men finally got away with Russell and Kristian being joined by Russell Hampton and Marvin Bialoblocki all representing different teams and some wondered if they would work together to stay away from the chasing pack. With a fair bit of racing still to go this uneasy alliance held and they kept the rest at bay pulling out a minute and twenty seconds on the now thoroughly exhausted chasers. As they charged up the climb of Michael Gate it still looked like any one of some twenty riders stood a chance but Russell Downing had not come to Lincoln today to be denied his fourth victory and as the bell sounded he found a last few ounces of strength and went for glory. The massive crowd in Castle Square cheered him on to a fantastic and hard fought victory as he crossed the line in style and claimed the honours. Marcin Biaboblocki just missed out and came in a well deserved second place as he was always in amongst the leaders and NODE4 Giordana Racing had had a good day out. Kristian House home in third to a thunderous round of applause as he had been in evolved in every move and navigated the cause brilliantly.
The way the race organised and the speed of the riders once again proves why it is perhaps the best once day event in Britain.  And as always a special thanks goes out to all involved with putting on this years event and to the spectators who turn out in their thousands to cheer and applaud the riders till the very last one has crossed the finish line.

 

This years event was set to be one of the most exciting and competitive Lincoln Grand Prix with a few twists and turns thrown in for good measure, as the organisers set out to test the new circuit ahead of next years nationals. Voted by far the most popular one day British road race, the course still embodied all that is great and glorious about this historic race. Added to the circuit this year was a thirty mile loop taking the riders twice out into the windswept Lincolnshire countryside. This circuit will then be used for the men's race in 2015. It was also a welcome return to the West Common road race which will form the basis for the 2015 women’s event. It followed the same circuit but would only take in the starting loop once.

 

The West Common got under way at ten o'clock , with sixty riders taking the start. Timing being the watch word of this years event, it got off without a hitch rolling out of Yarborough Leisure centre and heading out to start the countryside loop. With nowhere to hide from the weather the strong riders soon came to the front. The leaders set a fast pace and the bunch were fighting to find a wheel. The strong cross winds were causing early problems and and would prove to be a big factor in the Grand Prix as small crashes made it difficult for the main peleton to get organised.

 

Meanwhile the West Common race came through Castle Square for the first two laps, three riders jumped off the front Scott Auld, Fraser Martin and Joseph Wiltshire with several more riders fighting to make the front group a six. With one lap to go the three leaders were holding a gap of just under a minute with a a small chase group trying to organise behind. The main field while decimated by the weather conditions was battling on bravely with a few riders trying to drag themselves back to the front. Scott Auld had already built a winning lead for the Michael Gate Challenge Competition and as the leaders came on to Long Leys Road their gap had shrunk to only a few seconds. At the start of the steep cobbled climb of Michaelgate it looked like the finish might be contested by several of the front runners but as they came in to view of the crowds in Castle Square, Joseph Wiltshire of NFTO Race club proved he was the man of the moment, crossing the line in front of Scott Auld and Fraser Martin.

 

The action then turned to the Grand Prix, which set off at eleven thirty, and made its way out onto the two loops that would add the required distance for the Nationals next year. With the two leaders of the Spring Cup fighting to stay on top of the leader board and the added incentive of it being used as the National course for 2015 the major teams had spent many hours planning how to put their man on top of the winners podium. A group of some nineteen riders had got a small lead of about one and a half minutes, during there time out in the countryside, on the chasing pack. Rapha Condor had got their plan correct, as they dropped into the first decent through Burton Village, they had three riders up in that group with Yanto Baker one of the men fighting to win the Spring Cup at the fore but his main rival Marcin Bialoblocki had also managed to fight his way into contention. The big news from the race as they finished the first lap was that Russell Downing and Sam Harrison from NFTO had crashed out of the race. The breakaway group by then had managed to drag their gap out to two minutes with four chasers working hard to bridge the gap lead by Dean Downing who had missed the original split. The gap had come down as they came through again with seven to go. With the remaining peleton spread all along the course it seemed the selection had been made early. As the race progressed the lead group fractured into several small groups with six riders working together to stay away. The race had now entered a period of stability for the leaders as they left behind them single riders trying to find the strength and determination to get to the finish. With the rest of the race now strung out over several miles with many riders calling it a day as they dropped to over eight minutes back from the leaders. Three laps to go, a loose group of nine had formed led by Thomas Moses who had built a good lead in the Cossavella Michaelgate Trophy. It looked like they would all come back together after thepunishing climb had sapped the strength from tired legs once more. The NFTO Pro cycle team had perhaps the most riders in contention with a couple of riders from the iconic Raleigh team, Madison Genesis and Velosure Giordana.

 

The early bad weather had finally given way to the glorious Lincolnshire sunshine but it had taken its toll on many of hopefuls who had given their all. Seeing that many of his rivals were not going to be able to stay with him, Moses put the pressure on and started to ride away but with two laps to go many thought he had perhaps gone too soon but on the final lap he had built a gap of just under thirty seconds and was looking strong but Bialobocki and Baker were working to try and steal the victory. It would all come down to who could find the best line to climb the hill for the final time and take the honours before a fantastic crowd which had cheered the riders on all around the course. As the leaders bikes bounced on the cobbles of the climb and searched for grip, Thomas Moses held a slender six second lead, he had pushed his body to the limit but could he hold on to claim a magnificent victory in the years Lincoln Grand Prix. As the cheers went up from the crowd it was an exhausted Yanto Barker for Team Raleigh who had dug deep and found a few ounces of energy to cross the line first in front of Mike Northey. As a consolation for Thomas Moses he had done enough to win the Michealgate Trophy and the Under Twenty Three competition. The race had took just over four hours and thirty seven minutes to complete the one hundred and twenty one miles and had been one of the closest races for several years.

 

Final result:

  • 1st Yanto Barker
  • 2nd Mike Northey
  • 3rd Marcin Bialoblocki

 

On a final note, a big thank you to Ian Emmerson for Organising the event, all the officials, marshals, event staff, helpers and of course the generous sponsors who together with the the great crowds who turned out to cheer on each and every rider, make this race one of the best in Britian.

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