The cathedral city of Lincoln played host to the National Road Race Championships over the weekend. The city is already synonymous with the oldest national series race in the UK and was given the fitting privilege of hosting the championship race to mark
The cathedral city of Lincoln played host to the National Road Race Championships over the weekend. The city is already synonymous with the oldest national series race in the UK and was given the fitting privilege of hosting the championship race to mark Ian Emmerson's final promotion of the event. To comply with championship rules the race covered two relatively straight forward - on paper at least - 45km opening circuits before heading back into Lincoln to cover eight laps of the familiar 13km circuit that featured the infamous ascent of Michaelgate.
With overcast skies and drizzle in the air, many people were worried about the cobbled surface of Michaelgate as the riders pulled away from Yarborough Sports Centre with 197km ahead of them. Michaelgate was to play a role later in the race but it was in fact the first five kilometres of the opening loop that would decimate the field and end the chances of some of the pre-race favourites.
Under the pressure of Madison Genesis and Team Sky at the front of the pack in the exposed cross wind section, the bunch split into several groups and by the end of the five kilometre stretch an elite lead group of 23 riders had established with Tom Stewart, Mark Mcnally and Matt Cronshaw representing the team. With four riders from Team Sky also in the group, the pace never dropped and although two riders would eventually bridge across from the main bunch, the remaining riders from the 179 starters would never see the front of the race again.
The group worked well together and maintained a healthy lead until the first ascent of Michaelgate whereupon an acceleration by eventual winner Peter Kennaugh from Team Sky, split the front group and four European based riders went clear with all of the domestic riders in the chase.
Despite the best efforts of the chasing group the leaders gradually pulled further away over the remaining laps. Tom and Mark fought hard, attacking several times on the final lap to secure a minor placing but were eventually swallowed up at the start of the final ascent to the finish.
Team Manager, Roger Hammond:
"That was a thrilling championship, great to have been part of with the team. I’m really pleased with the team, despite the unorthodox preparations of the last few weeks they really took the race on, initially forcing the race deciding split and to then still be so active towards the end was great to see."
Photo credit - Larry Hickmott