By Richard Windsor published
The Lincoln Grand Prix, one of the pillars of the British domestic racing scene, must find a new title sponsor before the end of March otherwise its 2020 edition will not run.
Chestnut Homes had sponsored the race for the past three years, but have cited Brexit and the recent general election result – which returned a Conservative majority – as reasons behind them no longer being able to support the race.
The home-building company contributed £15,000 each year towards the running of the men’s and women’s races, but their withdrawal of funding has left a large, unfilled hole in the bank account of the organisers.
“They’re a house builder and they said that there is so much uncertainty that they haven’t got a lot of money on their hands,” Dan Ellmore, head organiser of the race, told Cycling Weekly.
“It costs £45,000 to run the two Grand Prix races and we are at £25,000 right now.
“Because the race is run in the town centre, we need eight police motorbikes, two police cars, a silver command police officer and 60 stewards to shut all the side roads. The police bill is £10,000.
“In the past if we have been a grand short, between the organising team we have put some of our own money in, but £20,000 isn’t in our piggy banks.”
Organisers have produced a sponsorship package to try and entice new sponsors for this year’s event, which takes place between May 6 and 10.
Sponsors can buy a bespoke package ranging from £500 to £20,000, with sponsorship available for the men’s and women’s races, the sportive, bike night and hill-climb.
“The chances of the housing market picking up between now and Easter is remote, so hopefully there is someone out there who says ‘we can’t not have a Lincoln GP’,” Ellmore added.
“I’d like to think there are people out there who love the race as much as I do and are able to help financially.
“We’re going through a list of previous sponsors and seeing if they want to contribute again, while we are also actively sourcing leads and ideas.
“We are still having planning meetings and the race is all set to go, but if we don’t have the money by the end of March to pay for police and other costs then it is off.”
The race, held on the second weekend in May, first took place in 1956 and has remained a mainstay on the domestic calendar.
It has made the cobbled climb of Michaelgate iconic, the punishing road crowning champions such as Malcolm Elliott, Paul Curran, Chris Walker, Russ Downing, and in more recent times Tom Stewart.
The maiden women’s edition was run in 2016, a year after the National Championships were held on the course, won by Lizzie Armitstead.
Cited by riders as the most important one-day race in the UK, it forms part of the National Road Series and its loss would be undeniably be an enormous emotional setback to the domestic scene.
Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.
An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).
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