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Rapha steps in as title sponsor of Lincoln Grand Prix

Riders take on the cobbled climb of Michaelgate at the Lincoln Grand Prix
Riders take on the cobbled climb of Michaelgate at the Lincoln Grand Prix (Image credit: Phil Crow)

Cycling clothing company Rapha has announced that it will be the title sponsor of the Lincoln Grand Prix, starting with the 2020 edition this May, in a bid to help save the 64-year-old event.

The British race has been run since 1956, and uses multiple laps of a circuit that includes the spectacular cobbled climb of Michaelgate in the centre of the city, where the race also finishes.

Earlier this year, however, the organisers announced that they were facing a shortfall in budget, with the possibility that the 2020 edition would not be able to be run.

Rapha, which provides clothing to UCI Women's WorldTeam Canyon-SRAM and men's WorldTour team EF Pro Cycling, has committed to coming on board as the title sponsor for the next two years. However, it is looking longer term in order to try to help the event become less reliant on such sponsorship, which was a problem it had identified as part of its Rapha Roadmap – a study commissioned two years ago to look at the problems faced by modern professional road racing.

"For the next two years, Rapha will be the title sponsor of the Lincoln Grand Prix, but our sponsorship is just the start," the company said in a press release on Friday. "Using this race as a case study, we will investigate, in practical terms, just how you secure a sustainable financial future for a bike race.

"Working closely with the organisers, we will explore new revenue streams, including Lincoln Grand Prix merchandise produced by Rapha Custom, with all profits going towards the race in a bid to make the race self-sustaining and ultimately less reliant on sponsors. We'll make mistakes, we'll make improvements, and we'll document it all so that fans with an interest not just in the sport but also in the financial model behind it can gain an insight," Rapha said.

Race organiser Dan Ellmore, who's held the reins since 2015, added: "The Lincoln Grand Prix team is excited to be working with Rapha for the 2020 and 2021 events, and to help develop a more sustainable approach to the race to ensure we can continue adding to the history of the event for many years to come.

"Having a brand such as Rapha recognise the importance of the event and get behind us to keep it running is a fantastic position to be in and we're really looking forward to working with them," he said.

Past winners of the men's edition include Malcolm Elliott, Brian Smith, Peter Kennaugh and Scott Thwaites, while the winners of the women's race, which has been run since 2016, are Alice Barnes and Rebecca Durrell, who have each won twice.

The 2020 editions of the men's and women's Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix will take place on Sunday, May 12.