Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic series set for 2017 revamp

The inaugural Women's CiCLE Classic makes its way up the hill to Burrough for the first time. EMN-161110-181302002

The inaugural Women's CiCLE Classic makes its way up the hill to Burrough for the first time. EMN-161110-181302002

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The popular Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic programme will be revamped for 2017 with an earlier slot for the women’s race and a longer, tougher course for the international men’s version.

The well-established men’s race will be staged on Sunday, April 23 and is to feature two new special sectors, extending the already brutal course by 6.5km.

Champagne moment for winner Rebecca Durrell EMN-161110-181329002

Champagne moment for winner Rebecca Durrell EMN-161110-181329002

The first will come at just under 50km comprising a 1.6km climb and a narrow, rough road surface, while plans are also under way for a second sector within the last 20km along a new unmade road.

Up to 12 overseas teams are expected with several new squads already expressing an interest.

These include the recently-formed Irish Pro Continental team, Aqua Blue, who have added last year’s winner Conor Dunne to their roster.

The women’s race will be brought forward to Sunday, June 4 and will form part of British Cycling’s National Road Race Series.

Windmill Wheels rider Ben Hardy makes a break for it in the Junior CiCLE Classic EMN-161110-181316002

Windmill Wheels rider Ben Hardy makes a break for it in the Junior CiCLE Classic EMN-161110-181316002

The race was introduced last year thanks to sponsor Pete Stanton, a long-time supporter of UK women’s racing, and will again start and finish in Melton.

Rebecca Durrell (Drops Cycling) was its first winner, pickign up £1,000, and was one of just 11 classified finishers as the tough course took its toll.

This year’s event will be preceded by the fourth Junior Men’s CiCLE Classic where riders will also be vying for British Cycling National Series points.

Like their senior counterparts, the juniors will also face a stiffer test next year along one of the race’s most notorious special sectors.

Race director Colin Clews said: “Since its inception in 2014 there have been calls from the junior men to include a passage of Somerberg. Well in 2017 they will get two passages.

“They will also savour the true CiCLE Classic atmosphere at Owston village.”

The juniors, won last year by Reece Wood (Velocity Globalbike), like the women’s race, will also start and finish in Melton and negotiate a 15km finishing circuit.