Ahead of his squad training camp in south eastern France, we caught up with double winner of the Rutland-Melton Classic, Ian (superman) Wilkinson and asked what he thought about this unique British cycle race in its 10th year and the prospect of a new season with Team Raleigh…
Q: Ian, it’s the 10th Anniversary of the Rutland-Melton International CICLE Classic in April 2014. What do you like about this race and how does it differ to other races you’ve taken part in?
Ian Wilkinson: “Hello there. The Rutland CiCLE classic is a breath of fresh air on the British race course design. With the off-road sectors, narrow roads and many twists, turns and loops, it plays to my past in MTB racing but also the multiple loops makes it amazing for spectators which makes it amazing for me as a rider.”
With your first win in 2009 and your second last year in 2013, what plans do you have to go for a third victory?
Ian: “Well, I have had a pretty good Winter and with my team change to Raleigh, it puts me in a very strong position. However, it is also a race of fortune and Raleigh have many points of attack with previous winner Blain (2012) and with multiple Top 5 finisher Yanto Barker, it takes the pressure off just me.”
What’s your best memory of the CiCLE Classic race in the years you’ve cycled it?
Ian: “Winning last year was the best, not just because I won but the way it panned out with both Yanto and me attacking between us, it was almost a textbook finale.”
So what’s your favourite section on the course?
Ian: “The barbecue smells in Owston always makes a nice distraction!”
With 2012 being a particularly harsh year with the weather and with only 22 riders finishing the course, what’s been most important to you when things get tough?
Ian: “My invisible cape!”
What specific preparation do you do for the CiCLE Classic?
Ian: “I do a bit of off road, road riding. It’s a real blast.”
We want the race to get even bigger and better and in our 10th year we’ve added a few route changes. Have you seen the new 2014 route and the inclusion of Cuckoo Hill with 25kms to go and the reverse finish?
Ian: “As ever the course is morphing and I don’t know Cuckoo hill yet, but I trust Colin and his team will have impeccable taste for refinement so I am sure it will be brutal but great for the race.”
For our 10th Anniversary we’ve also added a new Junior men’s race for 17-18yrs– The Junior CiCLE based on a similar format to the senior race, with off-road sections. What do you think of that idea?
Ian: “Fabulous. Give the Juniors a chance to tackle the same stuff we are battling on. As a kid watching Roubaix or Flanders, I just wanted to go and race those roads but of course it was not possible. Now, here in Britain, juniors can actually go do it. Great stuff.”
We’ve also added a new women’s pro race and sportive to our CiCLE Classic family in Thoresby, North Notts – May 2014 – is there a cyclist you’d particularly like to see compete at that race, given that it will have similar off-road sections?
Ian: “Well, Helen Wyman looks a strong rider and showed that in the recent National Cyclo-Cross champs. Or maybe Marianne Vos and Lizze Armistead can duke it out!”
So getting to this point of twice winner of the CiCLE Classic must take a lot of commitment and training but where do you go on your bike when you’re not training?
Ian: “Gisburn forest is amazing now. There’s been so much volunteer work done there, it’s transformed the forest into MTB heaven.”
So you’re a strong racer, in what way does mountain biking and cyclo-cross help your road racing?
Ian: “It gives me confidence in handling the bike. It’s important to know that a drift or slide is not always bad news!”
You’re about to set off to squad train in France but you once spent a year there cycling. What was the most important thing you learned when you were there?
Ian: “Suffering in silence.”
So, like many things, racing is full of ups and downs and the downs of a fall can often be a difficult time for riders, so how do you stay motivated, especially after an injury?
Ian: “It’s not how you fall, its how you come back! A good friend and coach always reminds me of this. Cheers Tim!”
So when you’re out cycling, what sort of things go through your mind?
Ian: “What’s in the hedgerow?”
Everyone has a favourite bit of kit when they’re training or racing, what’s yours?
What’s the best bit of behind the scenes or race morning banter, especially at the start of a new season?
Ian: “Did your jersey shrink in the wash?”
And who’s your funniest team mate?
Ian: “There could be new contenders this year with Raleigh so ask me again at sign on. I always like to keep the mood upbeat mind…”
What are you looking forward to most about being with Team Raleigh in 2014?
Ian: “Mega group of riders and staff and the bikes are very good. My first bike and my next! Also getting a chance to race abroad again, I’ve got unsettled business there!”
There are lots of riders out there at all sorts of levels, training for their own goals, what’s your biggest tip to give anyone if they are looking to improve?
Ian: “Keep doing a bit of everything and keep enjoying it!
If people want to support you for a third win, should they dress up as ‘superman’?
Ian: “Why not. that would be really cool and way better than mankiniiiiis!”
And finally, we noticed your team mate, Yanto Barker had a spiderman onesie for Christmas, do you have anything to say about that?
Ian: “He’s a big softie, needing a onesie. I like to stay hardcore and wear just my cape!”
Thanks for your time, Ian. And best of luck with your ambitions for the race.
Rutland-Melton CICLE Classic
Twitter: @cicleclassic www.facebook.com/cicleclassic
You can follow Ian Wilkinson on www.wilks-racing.com Twitter @wilks_racing or via Team Raleigh www.teamraleigh.co.uk