Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic launches TV crowdfunding bid

The 2015 Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic EMN-150511-161505002
The 2015 Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic EMN-150511-161505002
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The Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic looks set to wow national TV audiences next year - if supporters meet the £15,000 cost.

Organisers of the popular race launched a 30-day online crowdfunding appeal last Thursday to help pay for an hour-long highlights package.

A 2016 TV debut would be perfect timing with elite ‘Tour de France’ level teams likely to be involved for the first time thanks to a rule change by world cycling’s governing body, the UCI.

The crowdfunding bid was the brainchild of supporters who want wider exposure for the race.

The £15,000 would guarantee TV coverage with established cycling broadcasters ITV4 or Eurosport the preferred options.

Race director Colin Clews, who lives in Wymondham, said: “It’s a tough and dramatic race, highly regarded by pro cyclists and supporters.

“But because of the impact of TV on sport, the race is still waiting to make the breakthrough it deserves.”

They have up until Friday, December 4 to meet their target, and Clews is welcoming donations of all sizes, no matter how small.

“We are not asking for huge sums of money,” he added. “If all of our 1,500 followers on Twitter gave a fiver or a tenner, we would be well on the way to reaching our target.

“Things are looking promising. It has got a lot of people talking and TV companies have come to us and expressed their interest.”

Since its debut in 2005, the Classic has grown in reputation and stature with teams flocking to the borough from all over the world.

Former world champion Mark Cavendish, Tour de France points winner Peter Sagan and Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy are just a few of the famous names to have taken part.

But next year’s 12th edition – scheduled for Sunday, April 24 – looks set to be the highest calibre yet thanks to a tweaking of the sport’s rules.

The UCI will now allow 1.2 category races, such as the Classic, to field two non-UK-based Pro Continental teams.

This means teams could use the rough tracks, country lanes and roads of the borough as a testing ground ahead of the Giro D’Italia and Tour de France.

“We are trying to entice a couple of those teams over next year,” Clews said.

“This would allow us to introduce the better-quality teams without changing the essence of the race.

“We try to provide an international race for British teams that wouldn’t ordinarily get into them and has allowed some riders to get picked up by the bigger teams.”

Three elite squads could make the start line after One Pro Cycling were promoted to the UCI’s Pro Continental level.

The UK team, set up by former England cricketer Matt Prior, won the team prize last year and have pledged to return in April along with Sir Bradley Wiggins’ new venture Team Wiggo.

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