CiCLE Classic: Race preview as elite women and junior men prepare for battle in Melton
A second slice of CiCLE Classic action will be served up on Sunday when some of the UK's leading women riders and junior men come to town.
The juniors will have first crack at the gruelling 105km Classic course, setting off from the Sherrard Street start/finish area, sponsored by Melton BID, at 9.30am with the prize presentations due to take place at around 12.15pm.
Then it’s time for the third Women’s CiCLE Classic which also heads out of town from Sherrard Street and up Burton Road at 2pm, with the prize ceremony expected at around 5.15pm in Melton Market Place.
Both races also form a round of their respective British Cycling National Road Series.
Billed as the toughest women’s race of the year in the UK, it is also one of the most well-rewarded, thanks to sponsor Pete Stanton, with £1,000 to the winner and prizes down to 20th place.
The prestige the race has quickly built up could be seen in the quality of last year’s winner, Katie Archibald, an Olympic, world, European and British champion.
Archibald has ben ruled out from defending her crown after breaking her collarbone in the Tour de Yorkshire, so Rebecca Durrell, winner of the inaugural race two years ago, will wear number one.
Nikki Juniper, the 2015 British Cycling National Circuit Race Champions, won her first Tour Series race in Aberdeen earlier this month and is one of seven elite category riders in the 123-strong field. She wears 53.
The Storey Racing team field three of these elite riders in Durrell, fresh from her victory at the Lincoln Grand Prix, Neah Evans (3) and Emily Nelson (8).
Leicestershire rider Grace Garner (9) rides for Wiggle High5, while Holly Edmondson (10) goes for Cycling New Zealand, and Alicia Speake (27) completes the select list for Team OnForm.
While the leading women’s riders will be battling it out, there will also be the chance to see some of the stars of tomorrow in the junior men’s race.
Teams from right across the UK, from Scotland down to Guernsey, and Wales to East Anglia, will be making the trip to Melton.
The 140-strong line-up includes William Tidball who will be looking to defend his crown and wears number one.
Both races will follow large parts of the international route used by the men in April, including special sectors at Manor Farm, Newbold Manor, Sawgate Lane and the infamous Somerberg.
There will also be king and queen of the hills prizes up for grabs for ascents of Cuckoo Hill, Burrough Berg and Cold Overton Berg.
The course passes through the villages of Burton Lazars, Little Dalby, Somerby and Pickwell, but the best places to see more of the action will be at Owston and Burrough-on-the-Hill where the races pass several times.
For the enthusiastic and canny spectator, it’s possible to see the Classic in seven or eight places during its circuitous route.
Those that survive the testing hills and rough ‘off-road’ sectors will head back to Melton, and once across the line they will begin a 15km finishing circuit.
This heads back up Burton Road before turning off at Sawgate Lane where riders will head towards Stapleford Park and then back to Melton via Saxby Road for the big finish.
Race organisers will use rolling road closures to keep routes open to motorists when the race has passed, but there will be a total road closure for the final 8km on each passage of Saxby Road into Melton.
Spectators are also reminded to park their cars well off the road, especially if parking on the many narrow roads which the race uses, particularly around Owston and Burrough-on-the-Hill.
Those viewing at Owston are asked to use the allotted car parks and to obey instructions from race marshals.
* Like the international edition held in April, the races will be used to promote the work of its adopted charity, the Mount Group Riding for the Disabled.
Throughout race day there will be chances to donate to the Somerby-based charity.