With the largest ever field assembled for a single day cycle road race on British roads outside of the World Road Championships, the East Midlands International CiCLE Classic on 29th April looks set to exceed all expectations of any other race that has barely been on the national calendar for three years.
The move to international status has been rapid, but with this year has seen increased backing for the rcae from major local orgnisations such as the East Midlands Development Agency and East Midlands Airport; as well major local employer Masterfoods. These head an impressive list of sponsors in recognising the potential that the race offers to highlight the area and its products, which has projected the unique race that has now taken on international interest and importance.
The continental interest in the race will come from teams from as far away as Denmark, Norway the Netherlands and Slovakia, bringling with them the reigning World Masters Road Race Champion for the 30 -34 age group; Tjarco Cuppens of the Netherlands, together with many other riders who are regular winners in their own countries. Meanwhile Britains own contingent includes four riders who have been, or are currently holders of the World Championship title.
2004 World Points Champion, Chris Newton (Recycling.co.uk) last years CiCLE Classic runner up, returns at the head of a young team, while 2005 World Madison Champions Rob Hayles (KLR) and his then teamate Mark Cavendish, who takes a weekend off from his European commitments and to head a team from for his home country; the Isle of Man; are all men to watch, as is evergreen former Tour de France rider Malcolm Elliott, (Pinarello) who is the current World Masters Road Race Champion for the 40-44 years age group.
But wearing number one on the programme is Robin Sharman (KFS Special Vehicles) who as wnner of the 2006 edition of the race demonstrated then that reputations are there to be destroyed, while also tucked away in the listing is Scot Gamble of Ashfield who won the first ever CiCLE Classic as a member of the East Midlands Team. After a year away he returns intent on making it two out of three, and this time in his club colours.
Meanwhile the East Midlands name will be upheld by a team of six supported by the East Midlands Development Agency, including James Cambridge and Ryan Henry of Oakham, and Paul Cox of Melton, in addition to British Junior international Tom Last of Matlock, Geoff Beetham of Loughborough in a squad led by Dan Booth of Ibstock, who surprised many last year by his 7th place CiCLE Classic finish.
Also among the list of favourites are riders such as Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor), Ian Wilkinson (SiS) and Simon Gaywood (Plowman Craven- Evans Cycles). Each have produced surprize wins this year respectively in the Tour of the Reservoir, Girvan Three day at Easter and the Archer Road Club Gran Prix; the three immediately preceding British Premier Calendar series races of which the CiCLE Classic also forms a part.
But, with over 30 foreign competitors all within organised six man squads, the Britsh riders will have to be on the top of their game to prevent the top honours and the $1500 first prize leaving these shores after the race.
But as ever, luck will play a great part in a race which takes in not only the roughest roads available anywhere in Britain, but presents a test of man and machine that only the very strongest are likely to remain in with a chance of taking the spoils when the race concludes in the heart of Melton Mowbray on Sunday afternoon.
Starting in Oakham town centre at 11.00 am, where an associated local sports fayre is also being staged, the race as usual takes in two laps of Rutland Water before passing back through Oakham and entering the “Hell” that awaits them over the farm roads and tracks around Somerby, Owston and Burrough on the Hill. Then it is on to Whissendine and the new final approach to Melton via the ‘sting in the tail’ provided by the entry and exit of Burton Lazers.
The roundabout course presents many opportunities for specatators to see the race at various stages in its development before departing for the Melton finish. All spectators are requested however to obey the instructions of police officers and marshals at all times to assist in the application of the temporary closed roads that will accompany the race over its 100 miles course.
Particular recommended vantage points are Pickwell; Town End, Somerby; The Stag & Hounds at Burrough on the Hill, or Owston, where as usual the Village Hall Committee will be offering a barbecue and refreshments to all their visitors.
“Top class cycle road racing is exciting; spectacular; and free. What other sport can offer that with World class competitors right here in the East Midlands, racing along roads close to our homes. It’s there to be enjoyed; so don’t miss it!”, says Race Director Colin Clews.
- Tel: 07979 856262
- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.cicleclassic.co.uk
N.B. Requests for press accreditation for the race should be made in advance, with passes issued from the pre race HQ at Vale of Catmose College, Cold Overton Road, Oakham between 9.00 and 10.30 on the 29th April.