For a British cycling fan the month of May means two things. It’s the month of the Giro d’Italia, and the most prestigious one-day race in UK cycling: the Lincoln Grand Prix.

The cobbled climb of Michaelgate is the defining feature of the race, tackled 13 times by riders over the 102 mile course. The final ascent comes just 100m from the finish; first up Michaelgate for the 13th time is almost always first over the line. 

This year’s Lincoln GP, sponsored by the University of Lincoln, will be without defending champion and four-time winner Russell Downing, whose NetApp-Endura team are restricted from riding national level events by the sport’s governing body, the UCI.

“It’s a shame that Russell [Downing] is unable to come and defend his title, and win a fifth Lincoln,” race organiser Ian Emmerson OBE told Cycling Weekly.

“The number of entries have been about the same as last year,” he said. “But the quality is

definitely higher. It’s been hard to work out exactly who to include.”

The Lincoln always attracts a strong field and this year is no different, despite the absence of Downing and 2011 winner Scott Thwaites (also NetApp-Endura).

Sky’s Peter Kennaugh will line up as one of the top favourites in what is also the second round of the Premier Calendar series, following the Tour of the Reservoir two weeks ago. Riding for the Isle of Man team, the Olympic gold medallist is able to bypass the UCI restriction.

Current Premier Calendar leader Evan Oliphant (Raleigh) is a late inclusion to the start list although UK Youth’s Chris Opie, currently second in the overall series standings, misses out due to illness. 

“It will probably be an unexpected winner,” added Emmerson. “I think Pete Kennaugh has to be the favourite although there will be plenty of other teams racing who wouldn’t agree with that!”


The finish in Castle Square with the iconic backdrop of Lincoln Cathedral

What, where, when

Race: University of Lincoln Grand Prix 2013
When: Sunday May 12, 2013
Where: Start: Yarborough Leisure Centre (10am)
Finish: Castle Square (approx. 2pm)

Six to watch out for

Peter Kennaugh (Team Isle of Man)
Fresh from the Tour of Romandy, where he was part of Chris Froome’s race winning Sky team, Kennaugh is a top favourite for the race. With this being his first race on the domestic scene this season, he’ll also be a bit of wildcard in the British peloton.

Kennaugh leads the peloton at the Tour of Romandy

Marcin Bialoblocki (UK Youth)
Perennial Premier Calendar performer, Bialoblocki was second at the Lincoln GP last year. His UK Youth team have stamped their authority on the season so far and with Chris Opie missing, Bialoblocki could be the man to step up. 

Ian Bibby (Madison-Genesis) 
The two races Bibby wants to win the most in 2013 are the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic and the Lincoln GP. Since the CiCLE Classic has been and gone, with Bibby losing out to former teammate Ian Wilkinson by a whisker, he’ll be more motivated than ever.

Pete Hawkins (IG-Sigma Sport)
The man from Northern Ireland has a mean uphill kick at his disposal and has been on form in recent weeks. He currently sits third in the Premier Calendar ranking after the Tour of the Reservoir.

Eric Berthou (Raleigh)
Berthou the Breton could be an outside bet on Sunday. He excells when it comes to tough races with rough road thrown in.

Kristian House (Rapha-Condor-JLT)
House is one of the most

consistent riders at the Lincoln, placing highly for nearly ten years.

Third last year and winner in 2006, his knowledge of the course will be

invaluable.

As well as the Lincoln, House won the Durham round of the 2012 Tour Series, which also features a cobbled climb.

Teams

Synergy-Baku
Team Isle of Man
AW Cycles
Achieve CC
Aprire Bicycles
Biketreks Racing Academy
Champion System/Maxgear
Clay Cross RT
Equipe CMI
Team Corley Cycles
Team Diabetes UK
Felt-Colbornes-Hargroves RT
Halesowen A
Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes
Hope Factory Racing
Iceni Velo
IG-Sigma Sport
Kingsnorth International Wheelers
Team Leapfrog
MG-Maxifuel
Madison-Genesis
Metaltek-Knights of Old
NFTO
Node4-Giordana
Paisley Velo RT
Pedal Heaven
Primal Europe
RST Racing Team
Team Raleigh
Rapha-Condor-JLT
Spin-Rotor-Primal-C Orginals RT
Spirit Bikes RT
Team Sportscover
TS Racing Team-Vankru
Twenty3c.co.uk-Focus
UK Youth
Velo29-Blackhawk
Wheelbase-Altura-MGD
Connacht Cycling Team


Four-time Lincoln winner Russ Downing grimaces his way to victory in 2012

Recent winners

2012 Russell Downing (Endura Racing)
2011 Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing)
2010 Chris Newton (Rapha Condor Sharp)
2009 Russell Downing (Candi TV Racing Team)
2008 Russell Downing (Pinarello Racing Team)
2007 Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Racing Team)
2006 Kristian House (recycling.co.uk)
2005 Russell Downing (recycling.co.uk)
2004 David O’Loughlin (Total Cycling)
2003 Mark Lovatt (Life Repair CRT)
2002 Huw Pritchard (Angliasport)
2001 John Tanner (Ribble – Pro Vision)

Last year’s top ten

1. Russell Downing (Endura Racing)
2. Marcin Bialoblocki (Node 4 Giordana)
3. Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp)
4. Simon Richardson (IG Sigma Sport)
5. Russell Hampton (Raleigh-GAC)
6. Pete Williams (Node 4 Giordana)
7. Dan Craven (IG Sigma Sport)
8. Dean Windsor (Endura Racing)
9. Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing)
10. Liam Holohan (Raleigh-GAC)

Related links

Evan Oliphant wins Tour of the Reservoir

Chris Opie wins Tour of the Reservoir opener

Photo Gallery: Tour of the Reservoir stage two, by Andy Jones

Photo Gallery: Tour of the Reservoir stage one, by Andy Jones

2012 Lincoln Grand Prix: Post-race debrief

Russell Downing wins Lincoln GP for fourth time