Organisers of the Melton-Rutland CiCLE Classic hope to launch a world-class women’s race next summer after receiving backing from a mystery donor.
The offer to cover the costs of a separate international women’s race emerged as an offshoot of the Classic’s crowdfunding bid which aimed to raise £15,000 to secure guaranteed TV coverage of next year’s men’s race.
Just £2,000 was raised during the 30-day window, but race director Colin Clews said new developments had made up for the disappointment of the total tally.
These included an offer from an individual donor to pay for a separate women’s CICLE Classic. An inaugural race could be held as early as next July.
Clews said: “We have talked about the possibility of a women’s race for a number of years, but we knew we would never be able to fit it into the weekend.
“Holding a stand alone race on another weekend hikes up the price, but someone has come forward who said they would be willing to cover the full cost.”
Women’s cycling has become a growth market in the UK, particularly after Lizzie Armitstead’s rise to become world champion earlier this year.
Clews, from Wymondham, would look to base any potential race in and around Melton, with a start and finish in the town centre, and combine it with a sportif for amateur riders.
Fundraising towards TV exposure will continue through sale of merchandise and donations, and Clews remains convinced the men’s CiCLE Classic will be broadcast to a wider audience next April.
While falling way short of the target, the publicity from the fundraising drive has attracted interest from TV production companies which could drive down the eventual cost of coverage.
Clews is also considering live streaming of the race online to reach a global audience.
The Classic attracts teams and riders from all over the world and next year is set to feature elite ‘Grand Tour’ teams for the first time.
“We may have fallen very short of that target, but what has come out of the 30 days is encouraging,” he added.
“It gives us confidence and has opened up new avenues of development.”
To donate, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/CiCLEClassic