Now in it’s 63rd year, the 2019 Lincoln Grand Prix sponsored for the third time by Chestnut Homes, was held in sunny weather on Sunday 12th May.
It was the second race of 11 of the men’s HSBC UK National Road Series and also the fourth of 14 Tour of Britain qualification events, so again the stakes were high.
The prestigious 103 mile men’s race covered 13 laps of the traditional Grand Prix circuit which included the infamous cobbled climb up Michaelgate Hill, and finishing at the top in Castle Square.
Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes fielded a powerful and proven team with 2016 winner Tom Stewart, 2017 runner-up Rory Townsend and 2018’s winner and runner-up, Alexandar Richardson and Andy Tennant respectively.
Jacob Hennessy, Robert Jon McCarthy, Alex Paton and Charlie Tanfield were the other four members of the team. Competition was undoubtedly going to be strong with 2017 winner Ian Bibby representing Madison Genesis and 2011 winner Scott Thwaites representing Vitus Pro Cycling.
A crash early on lap one broke up the peloton which took most of the remainder on the lap to reform into a unit.
The ensuing pattern and rhythm of the race differed from the expected norm of (a) a break getting away and establishing a sizable lead often of several minutes, then (b) slowly being brought back by the pursuing peloton for most of the remainder of the race, with (c) frantic attacks and counter-attacks in the last half hour or so.
This contest seemed to be more dynamic and fluid from the off, with the rider attacks that followed being frequent and varied in number from a couple of riders getting away and being joined by others, to larger groups that would roll-off the front of the peloton to smother the attempted breakaways.
However, one characteristic seemed common regardless of the size and nature of the break, in that it would include one or more representatives from the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team.
On the third lap Tanfield got away with three other riders to make the first meaningful break which gained a gap of around 40 seconds.
A couple of laps later this group had been joined by another 11 riders including Jacob Hennessy and National Road Series leader Rory Townsend, though by the half-way mark the field had largely come back together again.
With five laps to go three riders, including Jacob Hennessy again, broke away. They were shortly joined by another three riders including Stewart and Richardson putting the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team in an extremely promising position and with four laps to go they had a lead of around 50 seconds. With three laps to go this group of six were joined by Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) and Thwaites who had finished 6th and 8th overall respectively in the recent Tour de Yorkshire.
With two laps to go Richardson took off with John Archibald (Team Ribble) and established a lead of 10 seconds over a chasing peloton that had largely regrouped.
With one lap to go Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes had four riders placed in the top ten with a dramatic finish highly anticipated.
When the leaders reappeared on Michaelgate Hill it was Tom Picock (Team Wiggins) leading from Tennant with Stewart just behind. As Tennant faded he let Stewart accelerate past and comfortably gap Pidcock before the line.
After the race, Stewart commented:
“It’s a tough race, but I’ve learnt how to ride it over the years, I think.
You have to prepare yourself to go extremely deep – you know it’s going to hurt. You have moments where you doubt yourself, and I had that today, but I just identified the biggest threats and started watching each one of those riders, picking them off one by one and gradually thinking ‘I can do this’.
“The last time I won here I came into the finish with three extremely strong guys and I managed to beat them, and that gave me some confidence – this finish obviously suits me. I took a different line to previous years, but still managed to do the trick.”
“I was about third wheel coming into the bottom of the climb and I could see that Tom (Pidcock) was in front of Andy Tennant and I think Andy was just…the gap was opening a tiny bit and I just said to Andy ‘on your left’, he just let me through and I got some momentum and that was it!”
So a great day for Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes with many members of the team making their contribution to Stewart’s and the team’s magnificent win!
This puts the team back into a strong position in both the National Road Series and the Tour of Britain qualification standings.
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman.
Images – Hugh McManus