It’s lap four of the men’s race at the 64th running of the Chestnut Homes Lincoln Cycling Grand Prix and the leaders are storming down Yarborough Road towards the iconic cobbled Michaelgate climb towards Lincoln’s older quarter.
As the riders pop into sight over the crest in front of us there’s an unmistakable sound of gears whirring at maximum velocity. Moments later, twelve riders quickly fly-past at breakneck speeds within touching distance before slinging the bikes into a tight left-hander. They look as if they are on rails, nothing would slow these cyclists down. As the airflow beings to settle from the first breakaway, peace and quiet descends onto the streets of Lincoln…for a few seconds anyway.
Arising over the crest comes the peloton. A huge gaggle of riders all clumped together travelling at speeds that are almost incomprehensible for us mortals. It seems inconceivable that bicycles should be able to even travel that fast…in fact how are they even going so fast? There’s little time to deliberate as the riders are instantly powering past our location on the side of the road.
As they fly by you get hit with a true assault on the senses. First you get hit with the sound of gears, chains and cogs whining under the high speeds which reverberate across the narrow streets of Lincoln. You then physically feel the bikes fly past as they punch a 40+mph hole into the air. Next you get hit with the smell…
As the peloton riders slung themselves around the tight left-hander an unmistakable smell of hot brakes fills the air. I can’t say I was ever expecting to experience this at a cycling race. In my years of motorsport photography I’ve experienced it with cars smelling of cooked brakes after a gruelling endurance stint…but never a cycle race.
Then once again a silence filled the air, this time it was over…for at least another fifteen minutes or so. It was a truly breathtaking experience.
It beggars belief that these athletes are able to do this over and over again for 13 laps of this gruelling Lincoln circuit. This year the competition moved at record pace completing the event 6 minutes faster than the previous year.
Lifting the trophy for the second time would eventually be Tom Stewart after a thrilling final sprint up Michaelgate fending off victory from Tom Pidcock of Team Wiggins Le Col & fellow team-mate Andy Tennant.
Meanwhile in the women’s race which took place earlier on in the day, defending champion Rebecca Durrell once again claimed the top spot. Consistently climbing to the top of the hill at the front of the pack despite charges from Joscelin Lowden and Anna Henderson.
We hope to rejoin the HSBC UK National Road Series later in the year for more action packed races on the streets. If you’ve never been, make sure you get to one – they’re like nothing you’ve ever seen before!
If you were riding in the Lincoln Cycling GP and want to see any imagery we may have taken of you, then please drop us a message!