Professional riders from across the globe along with thousands of fans will descend on Melton this weekend as the 12th Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic stirs up its unique buzz of anticipation.
Race director Coin Clews has turned the event into a huge international festival of cycling since its launch in 2004 as a British rival to the Continental spring Classics.
The race has established an impressive alumni over the years, including former world champion Mark Cavendish, who failed to finish the brutal course, four-time Tour de France green jersey winner Peter Sagan, and Olympic medallist Ed Clancy.
Familiar voice of TV cycling, and four-time world champion rider, Hugh Porter will again provide race day commentary.
A field of 33 teams has been confirmed to take the start in Oakham on Sunday morning, including several debutants from within Britain and Europe.
But only a select few of the 200-strong start list are expected to make the finish in Melton around four hours later.
Britain’s newest world champion Jonathan Dibben will lead the Team Wiggins squad, having finished a very close second in the prestigious under 23s Ronde van Vlaanderen, in Belgium.
Former Amstel Gold race winner Stefan Schumacher leads the German-based Christina Jewellery team, fresh from his overall win at the recent Tour of Morocco.
In addition, Britain’s newest top flight team, One Pro Cycling, formed by ex-England cricketer Matt Prior, will be riding in Britain for the first time this year at the Classic.
Their team could include Australian rider Steele von Hoff who won last year’s race while riding for NFTO, and British rider Yanto Barker who always goes well here.
But at least three past winners will definitely line up including ‘Superman’ Ian Wilkinson, the only two-time winner of the race, this time in Pedal Heaven colours.
The 2014 winner Tom Moses returns with JLT-Condor, and Alex Blain, winner of the infamous rain-sodden 2012 edition, is back as part of a revamped Madison–Genesis squad.
The race has attracted TV coverage for the first time, with Channel 4 airing an hour-long highlights package.
An inaugural Women’s CiCLE Classic is also set for July over a similar course, and has already attracted plenty interest from women racers throughout Britain.
“The promotion of the race gets no easier year on year,” said Clews. “But as the race approaches, the buzz increases and spurs the organisation on to a higher level each year.
“This year we have again left most of the course unchanged, although we have inserted one further passage of the farmyard section at Owston into the course.
“Coming immediately after the first passage of Somerberg it could become a new defining moment in the race.
“Anyone losing time at that stage may find themselves behind for the remainder of the day, and their race will be over.”
The weekend will begin with the Dare2b Rutland CiCLE Tour on Saturday which allows all-comers to experience the delights of cycling in the beautiful countryside of east Leicestershire and Rutland.
More than 1,500 are expected to take part over varying distances designed to suit everyone’s abilities and ambitions.