Taking a break from riding in Team Sky colours, Peter Kennaugh secured victory for the Isle of Man in the 58th University of Lincoln Grand Prix, round two of the Premier Calendar Road Race Series, on Sunday.
The Manxman crossed the line alone, 15 seconds ahead of runner-up Marcin Bialoblocki (Teak UK Youth) at the end of the 102-mile race which famously takes in 13 laps and 13 climbs up the one in six cobbled Michaelgate climb.
And it was on that climb where Kennaugh forged his race-winning lead, attacking with five laps remaining and ploughing on to a popular victory.
Bialoblocki and Tom Scully (Team Raleigh) managed to get free with Kennaugh, and although they helped establish a good lead, the pace proved too much for Scully who dropped back to the bunch on the penultimate lap.
And even for the big UK Youth rider Bialoblocki, Kennaugh’s sheer pace up the climb proved too much as he attacked at the foot of the climb to take a solo victory.
But it was far from being a solo victory, and Kennaugh was quick to thank his team-mates in Team Isle of Man for their work in getting him to the right place at the right time.
And Kennaugh, who was riding the Lincoln Grand Prix for the first time, also saved some words for the spectators, who were five-deep on the Michaelgate climb and through into the finish at Castle Square.
“I couldn’t believe the crowds here, it felt like I was riding on the wave of cheers,” said a euphoric Kennaugh afterwards.
“I’ve had fantastic preparation for the Lincoln having ridden the Tour of Romandie with Chris Froome, and I’m using this as part of my preparation for the rest of the season.
“I was surprised by the quality of the domestic riders in the race, I didn’t take anything for granted and knew I would have to ride hard to win this.”
Although the pace was high there were few early casualties, and it was only in the closing few laps that the backmarkers were forced to pull out as Kennaugh’s attack on lap eight proved the catalyst to a swathe of retirements.
Once he had got clear with Bialoblocki and Scully the lead grew quickly to around 20 seconds, and over the next two laps they worked well to extend their advantage.
Eric Berthou (Team Raleigh), Yanto Barker and Rob Partridge (both Team UK Youth) were among the main drivers in the chase, and got off the front at one point. But they never looked likely to catch the leading trio, who had extended their lead to a minute and a half as they started lap two.
On the back of the penultimate lap the pace proved too much for Scully, and it wasn’t long before Bialoblocki was left behind too as Kennaugh rocketed up Michaelgate once more to cross the line 15 seconds ahead, while Bialoblocki took second and the bunch was led in by Team Raleigh’s Lachlan Norris, 2-15 behind in third.
Lincoln Grand Prix 2013
1 Peter Kennaugh (Team Isle of Man) 3-51-14
2 Marcin Bialoblocki (Team UK Youth) at 15sec
3 Lachlan Norris (Team Raleigh) at 2:15
4 Richard Lang (Team Raleigh) at 2:19
5 Tobyn Horton (Team UK Youth) at same time
6 Liam Holohan (Madison Genesis) at 2:24
7 Eric Berthou (Team Raleigh) at 2:38
8 Yanto Barker (Team UK Youth) at 2:57
9 Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT) at 3:02
10 Peter Hawkins (IG-Sigma Sport) at 3:04
11 Tom Stewart (Team Sportscover) at same time
12 Steve Lampier (Node 4-Giordana) at 3:06
13 Will Bjergfelt (MG Maxifuel) at 3:07
14 Peter Williams (IG-Sigma Sport)
15 Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh)
16 Connor McConvey (Synergy Baku)
17 Martin Ford (Herbalife-Leisure Lakes)
18 Ben Greenwood (Hope Factory Racing) all at same time
19 David McGowan (Metaltek-Knights of Old) at 3:11
20 Tom Barras (Wheelbase-Altura MGD) at same time
Premier Calendar overall (provisional, after two rounds)
1 Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh) 146 pts
2 Chris Opie (UK Youth) 140
3 Peter Hawkins (IG-Sigma Sport) 139
4 Tom Stewart (Sportscover) 122
5 Marcin Bialoblocki (UK Youth) 114
6 Peter Kennaugh (Isle of Man) 100
Peter Kennaugh on the cobbles
Rob Partridge and Tobyn Horton
Peter Kennaugh wins
Kennaugh and TV presenter Sian Welby
Cal Crutchlow and Peter Kennaugh
Podium (l-r): Marcin Bialoblocki, winner Peter Kennaugh and Lachlan Norris