Manxman becomes only the fourth male rider to defend title since 1959.

Peter Kennaugh described today’s British Road Race Championships, in which he beat 2013 winner Mark Cavendish after a two-man sprint on Lincoln’s famed Michaelgate climb, as “one of the hardest races” of his career.

Kennaugh became only the fourth male rider – after Colin Lewis, John Tanner and Roger Hammond – to defend the title since the Championships were unified in 1959.

And with the racing beginning almost immediately from the gun, the Manxman admitted it was a tough day in the saddle.

“I think that’s got to be one of the hardest races of my career,” he said. “From three kilometres in, when we split it in the crosswinds, it was on all day, you were constantly on the pedals without realising.

>>> Peter Kennaugh defends national title as he beats Mark Cavendish to line in Lincoln

“When you get onto this climb, doing two-minute full efforts every lap, it catches up with you. When I did the Lincoln GP in 2013, I had the same feeling on the last lap – your legs cramp and fill with lactic.

“Michaelgate is actually quite stressful. The fans are great, their enthusiasm is amazing, but when you’re hitting them each lap, it would be nice if they gave you bit more room.”

Team Sky deserve credit for allowing their riders to race against each other – particularly when Kennaugh found himself in a leading group in the final laps of a 13-kilometre circuit around the historic city alongside team-mates Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe, in addition to Cavendish.

“We get asked the same questions every year: we don’t work for each other, and we don’t work against each other,” added Kennaugh.