Russell Downing (Endura Racing) has won the Lincoln Grand Prix for a record-equaling fourth time.
The former national road race champion matched Paul Curran’s quartet of wins in one of the most prestigious events on British Cycling’s Premier Calendar.
After riding near the head of the bunch for several laps, Downing attacked on the final lap, was caught by second-placed Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4-Giordana), but dropped the Polish rider and crested the final ascent of the cobbled Michaelgate ramp alone to win.
“There’s one race to win in the UK, that’s the Lincoln Grand Prix,” said Downing.
“It’s like racing past my front door here because all I could hear was ‘go on Russ’. It’s great to win. I was in control all race. Kristian [House] was going really well for the King of the Hills so I just rode off him really and we found ourselves always riding away.
“I think it was with four to go that I split the group and that was perfect and then I went with two to go and then with one to go I was away on my own. I saw Marcin coming across and he must have ridden hard to get me as I was riding full gas. Fair ride by him.”
The now four-time champion (Downing had previously won the Lincoln GP in 2005, 2008, and 2009) was one of a quintet who broke clear with four laps to go.
But Downing rode clear of Bialoblocki, House, Simon Richardson (Team IG-Sigma Sport) and Raleigh-GAC’s Russell Hampton as the bell sounded.
Bialoblocki said Downing’s show of strength on the final lap had left him convinced he was “racing for second”.
“On the bell lap coming up through the cobbles Russ Downing showed his strength and I knew I was racing for second, I was feeling good and knew I could again catch him on the flat section, but when we got to the cobbles with 1km to go I knew it would be hard to beat him on the climb”.
“Our team has worked hard today and I’m pleased to get second, I don’t know how we are going to beat Endura in the next races, but we will keep trying and one day we will win,” he said.
Third-placed House had led several of the early laps over the Michaelgate climb, but afterwards paid tribute to Downing’s superiority on the day.
“When it came to it, Russell was the strongest, when he went I just couldn’t quite follow,” he said.
“Marcin had been sat on a lot in the move and still had the legs to go clear after him which was frustrating as I felt I was stronger on the day.”
Pictures by Andy Kennedy (Snowdon Images) for British Cycling