Robyn Clay seized victory in style up the Michaelgate climb at the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Wattbike, while it was a Saint Piran clean sweep in the men’s race as Alex Richardson secured his second win at the historic event.
Acting as the first round of the Men’s National Road Series and second round of the Women’s National Road Series, the best British riders took to the start line on Sunday to compete up the infamous Michaelgate climb, with women completing 63 miles and the men racing 103 miles.
Robyn Clay (Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee) powered to her first ever National Road Series round victory at the seventh edition of the Rapha Women’s Lincoln Grand Prix p/b Wattbike
In only her second season in the senior ranks, the 19-year-old was part of a five-rider breakaway that dominated the race, and Clay dropped her breakaway companions on the final climb of the day to claim victory.
The pace was high from the start and April Tacey (Lifeplus-Wahoo) was visible at the front of the bunch early on, clearly feeling strong on the first of eight ascents of Michaelgate. The junior pairing of Cat Ferguson and Imogen Wolff (Shibden Hope Tech Apex) were also to the fore along with the Hutchinson-Brother UK and DAS-Handsling teams.
Nothing could gain a foothold in the early laps, and it wasn’t until 50km to go that five riders broke clear – Clay, Heather Mayer (Hutchinson – Brother UK), Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne (Team Boompods), and the DAS-Handsling duo of Grace Lister and Sammie Stuart.
The five riders quickly set about working together to build a lead and within two laps, the gap stretched out to 45 seconds, with the chase hampered by teammates in the bunch. By the time the breakaway reached the final lap, the lead was insurmountable at almost two minutes.
The flat roads before Michaelgate neutralised any attempt to break away in the final kilometres, and it was clear that the finale would come down to a sprint up the cobbled climb to the finish.
Clay picked the right-hand gutter and accelerated hard at the start of the climb. At first, it seemed as though her breakaway companions had the measure of her, but Clay steadily pulled away from the others, crossing the line with plenty of time to celebrate her win.
Hodgkins-Byrne, a former Olympic rower herself, beat last year’s National Series champion Stuart to the line to take the biggest result of her road career to date.
Monica Greenwood rode strongly behind the breakaway to take seventh on the road, propelling her into the series lead after her second place at the CiCLE Classic in March.
Alex Richardson led Saint Piran to a 1-2-3 in a dominant display of strength on the cobbles of Michaelgate in Lincoln, taking his second win at the historic race.
The 33-year-old was part of the action all day, following and initiating the attacks that fractured the front of the race and eventually led to the Saint Piran trio of Jack Rootkin-Gray, Zeb Kyffin, and Richardson building a lead of almost a minute by the finish.
Rory Townsend (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) and Ciaran McSherry (The Cycling Academy) attacked on the first ascent of Michaelgate in Lincoln, forcing a response from Trinity Racing and Saint Piran. However, the move was soon swallowed back up by a fast-moving peloton.
The pace remained high and a lack of control at the front of the bunch meant small breakaways were active in trying to establish themselves around the halfway point. Finn Crockett (The Cycling Academy) was present along with riders from ROKiT-SRCT and a rotating cast of Saint Piran riders Rootkin-Gray, Kyffin, Harry Birchill, and William Tidball.
Eventually, a group of 10 pre-race favourites, including Richardson, James McKay (Cycling Sheffield) and Townsend found themselves clear of the bunch. Richardson seized the initiative 15km later and forged on with Dean Harvey (TRINITY Racing).
A lap later, Richardson’s teammates, Kyffin and Rootkin-Gray, bridged across and the quartet had a lead of 20 seconds with 50km remaining, before Harvey soon found himself outgunned by the Saint Piran trio and dropped back on the penultimate ascent of Michaelgate. Richardson, Kyffin, and Rootkin-Gray began a team time trial for the final 25km.
With 500m to go at the foot of the final climb, Richardson pulled ahead and climbed the cobbles of Michaelgate to finish alone with a roar of delight. His teammates crossed the line a few seconds later to be greeted with hugs from the two-time winner.
With the win, Richardson also takes the lead in the National Road Series and will wear the leader’s jersey at the Lancaster Grand Prix in July.
A full list of podium placings is below:
- Alex Richardson (Saint Piran)
- Zeb Kyffin (Saint Piran)
- Jack Rootkin-Gray (Saint Piran)
- Robyn Clay (Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee)
- Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne (Team Boompods)
- Sammie Stuart (DAS-Handsling)