On a day when we watched hard men like Gran Piemonte winner, Matt Walls and Tro Bro victor, Connor Swift crack before our very eyes it was reigning champion, Ben Swift who extended his tenure in that lovely jersey from 2019 through 2020 and 2021 into at least June 2022.
Still fresh of face, the man who has twice graced the podium of Milan-Sanremo has been in the pro ranks since 2009 when he rode for Katusha before being wooed by Sky for 2010.
He then had a spell with UAE before ‘coming home’ to Ineos.
If experience won the day then youth is snapping at the heels with an excellent Fred Wright (Bahrain) taking silver and Swift’s team mate, time trial and criterium championship winner, Ethan Hayter adding bronze to his haul for the week.
Wright’s ride also gave him the u23 title from the impressively aggressive, Lewis Askey who moves up from the FDJ development squad to the World Tour line up for the French team in 2022.
Bronze went to Hayter’s, ‘wee Bruv’ Leo.
Our Lincoln Gran Prix, incorporating the British Elite and u23 Championships began on Saturday lunch time with the long haul south from Fife to Humberside.
We could feel the warmth at The ‘Beef Eater’ restaurant at Scunthorpe Premier Inn, as we stood for 10 minutes waiting for our existence to be acknowledged.
But eventually we got a seat and the grub was OK, as was the Morretti. We weren’t sure about the female cage fighting on the restaurant TV though…
The Saint Piran guys were in the same digs with the mechanic doing his stuff under the canopy at the back door as a chilly drizzle fell – life’s like that for ‘spanner men.’
The beds worked fine though and breakfast was good.
We had a wrestling match with the one way system in Lincoln but eventually emerged just behind the imposing cathedral atop the hill in the centre of the city.
The ‘Lincoln Imp’ lives in there, sent by Satan to make mischief, an Angel sorted the little blighter out, turning him to stone, where he can still be seen topping one of the cathedral’s mighty columns.
First job, a forced march through the drizzle to the team car park; 19 minutes said Callum’s app.
But Dave and I reckoned this was calibrated for an Ethiopian distance runner…
However, wet and weary we arrived and there was Cav, his family, Specialized steed and cheap and cheerful family transport – an AMG bi-turbo Mercedes G Wagon.
Bike snapping commenced right away, especially that ‘34’ on the top tube.
Ben Swift wasn’t on his British Champion liveried Pinarello, rather a silver paint job which didn’t get our vote of approval, albeit the rim brakes did – our spies tell us that hydraulic discs don’t like cobbled criteriums, losing pressure as the race goes on…
As well as bike snapping, there were riders to be stalked; first up was Scot, Oscar Onley who rides for the excellent DSM development team.
He took bronze in the u23 TT title and we had hopes of a u23 medal for him today, sadly not but he did finish a very respectable 21st.
Pressure though – ‘We don’t come all the way from France for silver, guys, eh?’
Back at Planet Cav, the great man had appeared; changing in the car in a school car park a million miles from the glam of the Deceuninck bus and adoring Flemish fans.