2012 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.