Sunday could potentially be a great day for British Cycling; while Mark Cavendish eyes up the first bunch sprint in the Giro d’Italia, the ever-popular Lincoln GP is being held for the 56th time.
The 86-mile race will be graced by the biggest names on the domestic circuit, with Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s Zak Dempster hoping that his mercurial form from April will continue into May.
Dempster leads the Premier Calendar after the first round, and will use the expertise of his Rapha team – who have an impressive record at the race – to extend his advantage at the top of the standings.
Lincoln GP 2011: The route
After a slight deviation at the top of the Michaelgate last year, Sunday’s race will use the same route as the 2009 edition.
The riders will start from the Yarborough Sports Centre at 10am, and head out anti-clockwise towards Burton along the A57, before turning back towards Lincoln.
The Grand Prix covers 11 laps of the circuit and finishes at the top of the one-in-six cobbled Michaelgate climb in Castle Square at approximately 1.30pm.
As well as the climb, organisers recommend Burton Village – one of the fastest points on the circuit – and the Bailgate area, which close to the finish and boasts plenty of pubs and restaurants to visit between laps.
Lincoln GP 2011: Teams
Eurocycles Cycling Team
Beeling Bicycles RT
Team Corley Cycles
Endura MTB Racing
Forme Procycliste Sanlamere
Giant Kenda Racing Team
C S Grupetto
Mammoth Lifestyle RT
Maxgear Racing Team
Mayo Castlebar Western Edge
CC Multipole Berre D’Etang
Velo Club Norwich
Pasta Montenegro Zheroquadro
Renault Rotor Colbert RT
Royal Antwerp Bicycle Club
Science In Sport
Sportscover Strategic Altura
Team UK Youth
Team Tor 2000
Velo29 Cycling Team
Zanata Cycling Team Belgium
Lincoln GP 2011: Five to watch
Simon Richardson – Sigma Sport-Specialized
While there’s no harm in coming third at Lincoln, Richardson has taken the final podium spot for the two of the past three years. He’s suffered on the final climb of Michaelgate, but will be braced for what it has in store for him on Sunday.
Ian Wilkinson – Endura Racing
Runner-up behind Russell Downing in 2009, Wilkinson is returning from a crash in the Tour of Normandy which broke his collarbone. Whether or not he has the form remains unclear, but the experience of the race may prove useful.
Philip Lavery – Team Ireland
Lavery was the surprise of the last year’s race, and only a last-gasp attack from Chris Newton denied him of victory. While signed to the An Post-Sean Kelly team, Lavery will lead the Irish team on Sunday.
Jonny McEvoy – Motorpoint
McEvoy’s preparations for the Michaelgate took him to the Tour of Ulster last week, and he duly won the hill climb time trial. He finished ninth last year and could be the man to back.
Zak Dempster – Rapha-Condor-Sharp
Leader of the Premier Calendar after the Tour DoonHame, Dempster is the man in form. Rapha have former winners Dean Downing and Kristian House riding, and the the team triumphed with Newton twelve months ago.
Lincoln GP 2011: A word with the organiser
Race organiser Ian Emmerson OBE is hopeful that Sunday’s edition lives up to the event’s reputation as one of the best races on the domestic calendar.
“All our preparations are finished and we’re ready for the weekend,” Emmerson told Cycling Weekly.
“Rapha-Condor-Sharp are clearly the team on form, and Zak Dempster will want to extend his Premier Calendar lead, but we have a good, strong field and many riders capable of beating them.”
One team who are likely to miss out on racing are Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago, who only submitted their entry after the deadline had closed.
“We’ve got riders like Yanto Barker (who finished tenth last year) and Chris Ople sitting a long way down on the reserves list.
“I’ve been emailing the teams to make sure everyone down to start is coming but even with a few dropping out, it’s unlikely that they’ll get to start.”
Emmerson says they would have been able to start had the new British Cycling-imposed rider limits had not come to fruition.
“If I could have had 200 starters like previous years there wouldn’t have been this problem. It’s a bit of a pain in the backside, to be honest,” the organiser said.
‘Mr Lincoln’ proudly showing of his Honorary Doctorate of Science from Lincoln University, September 2009
After minor changes to the course for last year’s race, restoration works on Bailgate – which immediately comes after the Michaelgate climb – are complete so the route is the same as it was in 2009.
While the riders will tackle the climb eleven times, the team cars will be diverted away from the narrow climb, which Emmerson says has been welcomed by riders and team managers alike.
Despite only having three Police officers positioned on the course, the continued use of officers on motorbikes – and a number of accredited marshals along the route – will mean the circuit is almost completely closed to road traffic throughout.
Because of this, Emmerson has also been working with the local authorities to ensure that motorists will be able to use roads around the outer perimitre of the circuit while the race is ongoing.
Lincoln GP 2011: Saturday’s Sportive
For the first time, organisers will be holding a sportive a day before the race. 600 entrants have signed up, and they had the option of riding either 55 miles or 92 miles around Lincolnshire before finishing on the Michaelgate.
“We’re delighted that the turn-out will be so good in its first year; we’re on a part with the CiCLE Classic’s sportive which has been going for a number of years,” said Ian Emmerson.
“I hope these people turn up thinking Lincolnshire is flat and then leave after the race on Sunday knowing otherwise!”
Lincoln GP 2011: Weekend weather
Riders and spectators may be in for a repeat of the inclement weather that affected the 2007 race.
Conditions for both Saturday’s sportive and Sunday’s race are likely to be wet, although the temperature should be around the 20°C mark.
Saturday May 7
23°C but thunder storms predicted
60% chance of rain
Dean Downing wins a rain-soaked Lincoln GP in 2007
Sunday May 8
19°C, cloudy with heavy rain showers forecast
Extremely humid, 60% chance of rain
Lincoln GP 2011: Last year at Lincoln
“Rapha-Condor-Sharp rider Chris Newton has won the 55th edition of the Lincoln Grand Prix, outgunning breakaway companion Philip Lavery (Team Ireland) on the final climb of Michaelgate.
Ten years after his first win in Lincoln, Newton put his teenage companion to the sword on the lower slopes of Michealgate. Swinging round the final bend into Castle Square, he had the margin of victory and presence of mind to take both hands off the bars and savour the win – his second Premier Calendar triumph of the year after the Tour DoonHame, putting him into the lead of the competition.”
1. Chris Newton (Rapha-Condor-Sharp) 86 miles in 3-23-13
2. Philip Lavery (Team Ireland) at 7secs
3. Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport-Specialized) at 49secs
4. Alex Wetterhall (Team Sprocket) at 54secs
5. Ian Bibby (Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta) at 1-09
6. Russell Downing (Team Sky) at 1-11
7. Marcin Bialoblocki (Wilier-Bigmaggys.com-Prendas Ciclismo)
8. Jack Bauer (Endura) at 1-12
9. Jonny McEvoy (Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta) at 1-13
10. Yanto Barker (Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago) at 1-14
Best U23 rider: Philip Lavery (Team Ireland)
Best East Midlands rider: Dave Clarke (Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago)