Endura Racing’s Russell Downing won his 4th Lincoln Grand Prix today in front of a huge crowd in the heart of the historic cathedral city.
Russ rode up Michaelgate alone to equal Paul Curran’s record of four wins in this classic UK event. He was at the front of the race throughout the event and admitted afterwards he was always in control of it and was getting stronger as the laps passed by.
Downing attacked with a lap to go and after racing through the finish area alone, he waited for a lone chaser in Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4 – Giordana), the perfect partner to hold off the chase group of Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp), Simon Richardson (Team IG – Sigma Sport) and Russell Hampton (Raleigh GAC).
The pair opened up the gap to over a minute before Downing said goodbye to Bialoblocki and raced up the steep and cobbled slopes of Michaelgate, followed by a roar of cheering people as he did so, to emerge in front of Lincoln Castle as the winner.
The first test, Russell Downing goes clear with Simon Richardson with two laps to go.
Russ Downing: “There’s one race to win in the UK, that’s the Lincoln Grand Prix. 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 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 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.
Then Malc (Malcolm Elliott) gave my confidence a boost before the feed. He just looked at Marcin and looked at me and said “you’re an animal!” I was like “Cheers Malc!” because it’s a good compliment coming from a rider like him.
Coming into the race, I trained until Wednesday and then rested up. Normally I’ll train really hard the day before and the day before that but I did a 200km ride on Tuesday that took me six hours. Then Wednesday, I was in the hills and did some good hard efforts before I eased off.
I’ve had some hard weeks and my form is good. I go to the Tour of Norway next week which is a UCI 2.1 event and hopefully get a stage win there.”
Scott Thwaites (First Under 23 & 2011 winner):
I did alright. Still got a top 10 and first under 23 so I am very happy with that. Russ winning was perfect for the team in continuing our good run of form. It was a good race, a bit harder than last year with the extra two laps and the strong wind – it was actually quite tough.
The team were not sure if only having two in the first split (Downing & Ian Wilkinson) was enough so Dean and myself got across and then when Russ got away with the group of five that got clear, we were pretty confident he could win.
Julian Winn (Sporting Director)
It’s all about numbers up front and when Scott and Dean (Windsor) chased down the split with Russ and Ian in it, I was a lot happier as we had good strength in there. After that it was about winning on their own, whittling it down. Russell had already shown good form in the Tour of Reservoir where I just don’t think that race was hard enough to expose everybody.
I did think Russ would be the rider who would dictate things today but what he needed were teammates around him and he had that in Dean, Ian and Scott. It was perfect in the end. Russ knew what to do because once he gets the bit between his teeth, he knows where he needs to be and following him, you could see he was pedalling well and in control of it.
The race was the second win in two outings on the team’s new Smart ENVE System 6.7 wheelsets, provided through a newly announced partnership with Saddleback and ENVE.
Andrew Griffiths, Saddleback’sMarketing Manager:
We are delighted to be supporting one of the leading teams of the UCI Europe Tour and a dominant force in UK domestic racing scene. Saddleback’s partnership with the Endura Racing team provides a great connection between our company and the brands we represent.
To read more about our partnership with Saddleback here – http://www.enduraracing.com/Item.aspx?dept_id=5&item_id=444