Last year’s Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic winner Dan Fleeman will return to officially start this year’s edition.
The former World Tour rider gave the Melton-based Metaltek-Kuota team a spectacular home win last April, but made the decision to retire in the close season while the team has also withdrawn from competition for 2018.
Yet Fleeman will return as a guest and will officially start the race in Oakham Market Place on Sunday, April 22.
Having extended and revamped the route last year, organisers have confirmed this year’s race will follow the same 189km course, billed as the toughest, and most unique in Britain.
“Last year we added two passages of Stapleford Park into the race route, and these, as expected, provided a new challenge to the final stages of the CiCLE Classic,” said Wymondham-based race director Colin Clews.
“We are indebted to Stapleford Farm and Estate that this is now an integral part of the course used.
”The iconic photographs taken in and around this section of the race have been shown around the world and it is wonderful that anyone who missed these in 2017 will again have the chance to see the spectacle that the race creates through this beautiful setting.”
Teams from France, The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Finland, Spain and Latvia have already committed to the event which bases itself on the Spring Belgian classics.
The homegrown international race has also attracted increased interest from British squads despite the current problems facing many established teams several of which have folded over winter.
The race, which began in 2004, is also proving popular with local business, with Bills Bar of Oakham sponsoring the start area, and ReallyMoving.com providing new sponsorship of the King of the Bergs competition which will be contested again over six climbs.
Pearce’s jewellers, of Melton and Oakham, also step in to sponsor the timing car for the international race in April, as well as the women’s and junior men’s races on Sunday, June 3.
The Rutland CiCLE Tour sportif events will take place on Saturday, April 21, starting and finishing at the Giant Store in Normanton, and is expected to draw in more than 1,500 cyclists.
Title sponsors of the International CiCLE Classic will remain as Giant (Rutland Water) and Schwalbe UK, with support from Dare2b, Melton BID, and Melton Building Society.