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Sportive planner: Lincoln GP Sportive

8 Mar 2017

Try your hand (and feet) on the route of one of Britain's top pro races

When: Saturday 13th May 2017
Where: Lincoln
Distances: 33, 60, 78 or 102 miles
Cost: £26 (33 miles), £36 (other distances)
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What is it?

Based in the historic city of Lincoln, the Grand Prix sportive has established itself over the last six years since its inception in 2010 and now forms part of a four-day series of events as part of the Lincoln Festival of Cycling.

This incorporates a bike night on the Thursday, a criterium race on the Friday, the Sportive and a hill climb running on the Saturday, followed by the long-standing Lincoln Grand Prix professional race on the Sunday. You won’t be shy of things to see and do, that’s for sure.

The Sportive itself has a choice of four routes – 33, 60, 78 or 102 miles, so a good mix for all abilities.

Based at the Yarborough Leisure Centre just outside the city, the HQ set-up allows for a less congested start area and has plentiful parking and good facilities for riders, while the finish is right in the heart of the city, in the shadow of the cathedral in Castle Square.

It’s guaranteed to be packed with supporters and have a great atmosphere – this, of course, follows the iconic highlight of the ride, the cobbled climb of Michaelgate!


Isn’t Lincolnshire rather flat?

Well, yes and no. The area around Lincoln itself is fairly flat, with rolling countryside at its edges.

However, venture east into the Lincolnshire Wolds and the terrain becomes far more rolling and hillier, even if it doesn’t offer the kind of really nasty steep stuff of areas such as north Wales or the Peak District.

The 33 mile (53km) route sticks to the rolling areas around the city, the 60 mile (97km) route dips its toe into the Wolds, while the longer 78 mile (126km) and 102 mile (164km) rides head further afield.

All four routes, though, finish on the notorious climb up into the centre of the city, the aforementioned Michaelgate.

At just 200 metres long, with an average gradient of 6%, it doesn’t sound too imposing on paper, but those cobbles make for a seriously testing finish.

You’ll be glad you only have to do it once – the pro riders have to negotiate a circuit which climbs Michaelgate 13 times!

The Strava leaderboard for the segment is a who’s who of UK cycling, so you’ll certainly appreciate the hard work they put in on this race once you finish.

Don’t let this put you off, though, as it’s a spectacular bit of road, lined with cheering crowds and the adrenaline boost you’ll get from the whoops and cowbells will spur you on.

Don’t forget to save a little for the ride back to the leisure centre!


What about the rest of the festival?

Starting on the Thursday the city hosts a cycling-themed social event featuring films, guest speakers and live entertainment.

Friday sees the running of a British Cycling criterium race, which is open to most licence-holding categories if you’re feeling competitive, while Saturday is the main day for the sportive and the always entertaining Uphill Dash – a timed hill climb event on Michaelgate in the evening.

Finally, Sunday is the day to spectate for one of the UK’s most exciting races, which always brings out the best UK talent – the field has previously included top-class British riders such as Mark Cavendish, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe.

The HQ for the event at Yarborough Leisure Centre is also open throughout the weekend should you or the family/support team fancy a swim or a gym workout.


How do I get there?

Lincoln is situated in the east of the country, just over an hour’s drive away from Sheffield and Nottingham, and around two hours by train from London.

Hotels are plentiful and to suit all budgets, with many in the city centre and a number of budget hotels on the outskirts.

With numerous professional teams there for the weekend you may even find yourself staying at the same hotel as some of them. But book early – they will fill up!

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