By Gerry McManus
The historic city of Lincoln will again be the battleground for one of Britain's toughest cycle races when it hosts the 50th edition of the Lincoln Grand Prix on Sunday 8th May. 140 riders compete in the 102 mile UCI Europe Tour Category 1.2 event, which climbs the tortuous city centre cobbled climb of Michaelgate thirteen times.
The Planet X team of John Tanner, Kevin Dawson and Mark Lovatt will be among the pre-race favourites, having shared four victories between them over the years, and the team continues to show good form. Tanner has already won round one on the British Cycling Premier Series calendar and will seek victory here in round two to consolidate his lead. Dawson secured a victory in the prestigious Shay Elliott memorial race in Ireland at the end of April. The trio play the team game extremely well and will be expected to be featured in the break that matters.
The recycling.co.uk squad is also expected to challenge for podium positions with the squad containing three world track championship medallists in Rob Hayles, Chris Newton and Paul Manning. Russell Downing may again be able dig deep into his rich resource of athletic ability and race know-how to follow up his recent success in the Ruban Granitier-Breton stage race in France, if he appears on the team roster.
UK cycling is still waiting for the young guns to make their mark against the old guard with the 40-something Malcolm Elliott's Pinarello team confirming the strength of the more experienced ranks. Mathematicians will inevitably be looking at the average age on the podium and the top ten after four hours of racing.
The initial entry for the DFL team includes promising young stars Mark Cassidy, Ryan Connor and Yanto Barker, and many are hoping that the team has come through its recent difficulties and will use the Lincoln to show that it is back and stronger than before.
Teams from Holland and one from Ireland make the short trip to England hoping to cause a major upset and Irishman Eugene Moriarty could be a surprise package. Riding for the Cycleways team, Moriarty has produced a number of key victories in the past combining excellent race temperament with the right legs on the day.
If you're looking for a long-shot to back for a top position then look no further than Roy Chamberlain (Team Milton Keynes). His followed up an epic ride in the Archer GP to secure good results in the following weeks and will be anxious to improve on his 18th place in 2003.
Who ever sprints into Castle Square first will watched closely by previous winners who have accepted to attend the 50th event including John Clarey who won in 1966.