British clothing brand Rapha has agreed to sponsor the Lincoln GP for the next two seasons, saving the historic race from oblivion.
Jess Morgan, Rapha’s UK PR and communications manager, told CW: “It seemed such an important race and it would be such a blow to the UK cycling calendar to lose it.
“We already had plans in place to sponsor grassroots races in the UK across this year, but I thought we couldn’t let this one go and support races that didn’t have the prestigious background like this one.
“It wasn’t in our plan, but we managed to get a budget together and save the race.”
The race’s organiser Dan Ellmore said: “I’m delighted. This is huge. To have someone like Rapha come on board, they will raise the profile of the event and help us build a legacy.
“They have written the same cheque as previous title sponsors, but Rapha have a huge global reach, which in itself brings value to the race.”
The partnership is initially for two years, but Rapha hopes to help the race become more sustainable — with profits from race-specific merchandise going directly towards the funding of the men’s and women’s races.
“It made no sense to parachute in and save it for one year and be back in the same problem next year,” Morgan continued.
“We want to work with the race, diversify revenue and do things in a different, more sustainable way.
“Maybe we will carry on after two years, but if we pull out we want them to have the framework to make their own revenue.”
A local Lincolnshire company had also offered to sponsor the race, and Ellmore is optimistic that he won’t be fighting to save his race in the future.
“I’d like Rapha to say ‘this has worked well, let’s do another two or four years’, but if not then I want to be in a position where I have other sponsors wanting to come on board,” he added.
Ellmore also revealed that elevating the race to UCI level is something that interests him in the future, but that he would need to acquire an additional £15,000.
“We have looked into it before, spoken to British Cycling about it, and it’s not beyond the capabilities of the organisational team. It’s something we will no doubt revisit.”
The race has run continuously since 1956 with a women's version introduced in 2015. That year's races were run as the British National Championships, won by Peter Kennaugh and Lizzie Armitstead respectively. Other former winners include Malcolm Elliott, Kristian House, Scott Thwaites, Alice Barnes, Dean Downing and Russell Downing, who took victory four times.
“The Lincoln GP has so much history in the UK, over 60 years of history, so for Rapha to be headlining the event for the next two years is fantastic news," said Dean Downing.
"The course has everything that the European Classics have, atlands where the race is lined out and into the famous Michaelgate cobbled climb which leads through the centre of Lincoln city centre. The crowd is always one of the biggest in the UK.“
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