Endura Racing’s Scott Thwaites has added his name to the illustrious list of winners of the Lincoln Grand Prix, winning the Premier Calendar race on Sunday.
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The 21 year old nabbed the biggest win of his young career when he overhauled former national cyclo-cross champion Ian Bibby (Motorpoint) just before the finish line at the top of the cobbled climb of Michaelgate, with Bibby’s team-mate Johnny McEvoy claiming the final spot on the podium.
Thwaites’s victory was all-the-more surprising when you consider that he was part of the day’s main break, which went away on the first lap, with Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s Kristian House, Sigma Sport’s Tom Murray and James Stewart (UK Youth) making up the quartet, although Stewart later dropped off the pace.
The break’s lead remained around the two-minute mark until the halfway point in the race, at which point the leaders were reeled in.
It was time for Endura to play their second card, and Rob Partridge steamrollered Michaelgate and crested the climb with a small gap with six laps covered of the 11-lap, 88-mile race, with Rapha’s Dean Downing in hot pursuit at the front of what was an ever-decreasing peloton as the laps – and more specifically the climbs – took their toll.
A disappointed Downing later told Cycling Weekly that he thought the event had been raced negatively.
“It was the most negative Lincoln I’ve ever raced,” the 2007 winner said. “Normally it just gets blasted to bits, and everybody wants to race, but no one seemed to want to race today.”
But with Partridge brought to heel a lap later, and Rapha bringing Premier Calendar leader Zak Dempster into play at the front with a lap to go, the racing at least looked far from negative to the huge crowds – many of whom had set up shop on Michaelgate in easy reach of the city’s pubs and tearooms.
And Bibby was yet to try to get away on his own on the furthest section of the circuit where it descends through the village of Burton.
However, with the race approaching the final climb of Michaelgate, and with a large group of riders still in with a shout at the front, we were faced with the prospect of a massed charge up the cobbled slopes. The race has often been whittled down to just a few lead riders by this point, indicating that Downing’s assessment of today’s race was correct.
Bibby again led, but as he faltered, Thwaites stamped down on the pedals and came around him for the win.
“Negative racing? I just think it’s the way the Premier Calendar’s going, as there are just so many strong teams that no one can really control it,” said Thwaites. “While the three of us were in the break, we knew that it would be brought back, but we were just trying to stay out there for as long as we could, so that if it did split behind we could just get swept up, and then be part of a small group up front.
“OK – so it didn’t happen that way, but luckily for me when we did get caught we all just rolled round for a lap and a half, quite steady, so it gave us a chance to get our legs back.”
There’s no denying Thwaites’s legs came back, and now he’d like to come back himself to try to repeat his win at Lincoln.
“This year was my first Lincoln,” he revealed to Cycling Weekly. “I think this is the biggest Premier Calendar event, too – the one everyone wants to win because it’s so different to all the other ones – so it’s unbelievable to win it. And I’m still only 21, so hopefully I can keep coming back and riding this race for quite a few more years to come yet.”
Lincoln Grand Prix 2011
1. Scott Thwaites (GB) Endura Racing 88 miles in 3-21-58
2. Ian Bibby (GB) Motorpoint
3. Johnny McEvoy (GB) Motorpoint
4. Luke Rowe (GB) 100% ME
5. Liam Holohan (GB) Team Raleigh all same time
6. Zak Dempster (Aus) Rapha-Condor-Sharp at 3 secs
7. Rob Partridge (GB) Endura Racing
8. Martyn Irvine (Irl) Team Ireland both same time
9. Yanto Barker (GB) Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago at 17 secs
10. Marcel Six (GB) Twenty3c-Orbea same time
Scott Thwaites wins