Event Review

The Santini Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive REVIEW

by Sean Lacey


Saturday 11th May
Distances: 30 miles, 56 miles, 76 miles and 100 miles
Entry fee: £20.00 (30 miles), £25.00 all other routes
Participants: 1000 entrantsStart: Yarborough Leisure Centre - plenty of free parking, HQ indoors with a small event village, facilities and food / drink available
Feedstops: 1 on the short route, 2 on the medium route, 3 on the 100 mile route
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride
Timed: Timing chip on lanyard, manually checked at the start, finish and feed stops
Signs: A clearly way-marked route with signage (red arrows on white background)
Roads: Good routes on quiet lanes and minor B roads with rolling terrain and few bigger climbs. On route support and professional photographers (Sportivephoto) out around the route
Goody bag: High5 bidon filled with product, Santini pro-team casquette, free filled bap at the finish

The Ride:

Following on from ITP Events last event at Rutland, another trip further out for me to explore areas unknown. This time however I had the family in tow which required careful packing of kit as we would be stopping in a hotel the night before - my wife and kids don't do 4am starts. With the famous Lincoln GP professional race on the Sunday, finding a hotel in Lincoln was proving difficult, so we ended up stopping in Newark, a short drive away. On waking, the sky was blue and the sun shining, but the weather report suggested this wasn't to last and the wind that had picked up across the UK through the week was ever present. Twenty minutes in the car and we were parked up on the large field to the side of the leisure centre with no hassles or queuing. The family wandered off with intentions of a swim later in the morning (these HQ locations can be handy) while I got ready. Fortunately I remembered my rain jacket this time.

Signing on was as efficient as at Rutland, and once again we were issued with a timing chip from SPORTident that would be scanned a few times along the route. By the time I got underway around 08:30 there were no queues or scarcely any other riders about, so it was a solo affair for a lot of the ride as it was well spaced out.

sunny to start
Sunny To Start

sign on
Sign On

Having actually checked the route profile this time after getting caught out a bit last time out, the Lincolnshire countryside was to be much kinder on the legs, with a rolling profile for the most part with a couple of steeper climbs, finishing with the toughest at the end with the cobbled climb up Michaelgate in Lincoln city centre to the finish. The wind was playing it's part from the word go which in its own way made a lot of the miles seem uphill, but it was pleasant enough and the patchwork fields easy on the eye especially as the splashes of yellow Rapeseed were finally showing.

Rolling Hills!

I must admit to not feeling my best today and although not tough I was finding it a bit harder than usual, with heavy legs not performing as they should even on the flat sections, so it was with a little relief that the first feed at Tetford arrived 35 miles in. Wondering if it was just a lack of fuel I made a bee-line for the laden tables to stock up on a banana and a couple of cakes, including the cyclists favourite, fig rolls. Although I always drink loads, I was glad I didn't need to visit the little boys room as despite there being a good number of portaloo's, the now common sight of a queue at the men's was evident.

Residential Feed At Tetford

queue for the mens
Queue For The Mens - Only at a Sportive..

Back on the road and having a hard time convincing my legs they had only stopped for a few minutes, the scenery continued to inspire but the clouds were gathering and you knew it wouldn't stay dry for long. As well as my physical maladies, my bike was evidently showing some sympathy by squealing like a banshee when freewheeling downhill. For a big bloke I can get quite aero for descending, but this squeal was horrendous and the only way to stop it was to pedal lightly, which meant I had to sit up a little and lost some speed which was disappointing. It turns out after the event that the freewheel is in desperate need of an overhaul!

Having passed through Ruckland and Stenigot, the long route joined up again briefly with the medium route and their feed stop at Donnington on Bain. As it came up only 10 miles or so from Tetford, I stopped momentarily to scan my chip but carried straight onward. By now it was getting on for half way and the rain had started, although light showers and not enough to warrant getting the rain jacket out.

Back on our long route only northern loop, the numbers of others riders oddly seemed to increase and it was nice to join little groups as they came and went. This section also brought in more climbing although short and not too steep bar the odd one or two.

Riders wins... something?

But Carries On Anyway

The showers had picked up now and when the wind really blew, it stung somewhat, especially on those flowing descents with the ailing freehub soundtrack of a banshee wailing. I'll admit to going through a bit of a bad patch here, the legs still weren't playing ball and mentally I wasn't in the right place and actually willed the next feed to arrive, which it did at Middle Rasen. I decided to have 5 minutes to eat, have a hot cup of tea and try and get the positive thoughts flowing again. More bananas and cake were on offer along with a selection of savoury treats too.

middle rasen
Middle Rasen Goodies

plenty to drink
Plenty To Drink

The sit down and refuel had helped but by the time I left the constant rain had started, albeit lightly, and wasn't to stop until after I had finished. Oddly though (with rain jacket donned) the rain seemed to perk me up no end. The wetter I got, the stronger I felt and at least I was now smiling again. The last 20 miles back weren't as scenic as the earlier miles due to the low cloud and rain but I'm sure it was as pleasant really. The medium and short routes joined up shortly after the feed which put more riders on the roads to the finish with a good variety of riders and machines showing the appeal these events are starting to have. Five miles from the finish, outside RAF Scampton stood a lonely soul in the rain scanning timing chips for an innovative idea - if you had entered the relevant phone number into the entry website, this time check would send a text to that number to let your friends and family know you were only a few miles away if they wanted to watch you come into Lincoln.

A few short miles and you were back in to the urban area of Lincoln, and a mile from the finish I caught up with a woman at a roundabout who asked if I thought the Michaelgate climb would be open - there was a communication before the event that if wet and deemed dangerous it would be missed out. Thinking it would likely be off, it was good to see marshals a little further on directing us left, straight into a stiff climb, that turned left again onto the cobbles of Michaelgate itself. Lined with people cheering us on, it was indeed steep and slippery but my mojo returned (quarter of a mile from the finish, thanks a lot) and I powered up, past the riders off their bikes and pushing. Once it levelled out it was a short roll to the finish in the shadow of the cathedral. That one climb made the event for me, the atmosphere was fantastic.

on the cobbles
Defeating The Cobbles In The Rain

the finish line
The Finish Line

outside the cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral Just Through The Arch

This didn't quite signal the end though as finishing in the city centre meant I was a mile or so from the leisure centre so a short ride back, downhill for the most part got me back to the warm and dry, which was needed by now as I was wet through and getting chilly. Free rolls and hot drinks were available and the leisure centre facilities were open for use. Massage was also on hand, with event sponsor Santini selling a range of (dry!) kit from their range. With a goody bag in hand it was time to head back home.

Lots Of Rolls

dry clothing
Santini Clothing For Sale

Overall this was another well organised event by ITP Events. The cost was reasonable and decent value for money, the route fantastic with great scenery, manageable terrain, very little main road and the pre-ride communication top notch. Timing also was accurate and innovative with the texting option. Signage was also excellent, easily visible and none missing with maps handed out at the start for backup.

The only issues I had were with litter, and lots of it, despite numerous requests from the organisers not to drop rubbish on the road - I don't think I've seen so much on a sportive before - and riding standards from some others out there. Normally the riding isn't a big issue but with narrow lanes, quite a few were making it difficult for traffic and not dropping to single file on straight sections which just winds them up and in turn makes them less polite to riders they meet further up the road or in the future. One or two of the faster groups were aggressive in their overtaking too, which can unnerve less confident riders. Neither of these can be attributed directly to ITP Events however, but I would urge them to continue with the education on littering and riding standards.

Strava ride info: http://app.strava.com/rides/53651700

Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 9 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 10 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 9 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 10 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 8 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 9 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 10 out of 10
Overall Rating 93.3%

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1 Comment

15th May 2013 5:00pm Andy Mac wrote:

This year was my third time on the event - excellent organisation, marshals were well placed & informative, great route & well recommended.

The only negative was the amount of gel wrappers I saw on the road; obviously some of these would've been dropped by accident & that will always happen. But there seemed too many to be an accident. To those cyclists who seem to think they're professionals on a road race where someone follows the riders & picks up the litter - you're not! Would you litter normally when you unwrap a sweet? I'm guessing not - so why do it on a bike???? Why do you feel it doesn't matter, and it's someone else's responsibility?? It's not; put your litter back in the pocket you got the gel out of!!! Don't give cyclists a bad name, it affects future events (rant over)