"Abi Smith is a name to watch!" Women's CiCLE winner catches the eye as racing returns to Melton Mowbray

Race director impressed with Team Breeze talent...

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 3:42 pm
Abi Smith closes in on victory. Photo: Nick Rennie
Abi Smith closes in on victory. Photo: Nick Rennie

The restart post COVID of major Elite Women’s Cycle racing in Britain starts in Melton Mowbray.

Following an absence of exactly 666 days since the last major Women’s cycle road race in Britain due to COVID, the fifth edition of the Women’s CiCLE Classic was always going to be a special day, and so it proved last Sunday.

A superlative and record breaking ride by Abi Smith (Team Breeze) part of British Cycling’s racing academy, took the top honours on a day by riding away from what was left of the 140 rider field that set out from Melton on the gruelling 105 kms course taking in the harshest hills and rough tracks of East Leicestershire.

After only 60 kms covered following an attacking race Smith took her opportunity of a short lull in pace to take her leave of the main peloton of riders, and even to her own surprise was never to be seen again until the race finished in Melton’s Sherrard Street over an hour and a quarter later.

With a lead that topped out at over three minutes over the chasing group, Smith finished 2 minutes and 19 seconds at the line, after a late scare when her energy levels began to sap on the rolling climbs along the final Saxby Road approach to the town.

Her efforts proving highly beneficial as she also bagged with her efforts the Melton Town prize for the first rider to cross the finish line with a lap top go, receiving as her reward the prestigious Dickinson & Morris huge pork pie together with a bottle of locally sourced Brentingby Gin to add to her first prize of £1000.

A large chasing group of 29 riders headed home by Ellen McDermott (Team Boompods) and Eluned King, a teammate of the winner headed home a hectic sprint lasting the full length of Thorpe End and Sherrard Street.

“Never before in the 16 year history of the CiCLE Classic events has a single rider managed to gain such time on their fellow competitors,“ said race director Colin Clews.

"The effort involved in doing so cannot be underestimated.

"On this performance Abi Smith is a name to watch out for in the future as Britain seeks to continue its dominance of track cycling at World and Olympic level.”

Interestingly the success of track rather than road riders at the Women’s CiCLE Classic in previous years continues and its says much for the bike handling skills required by riders in that discipline that they are able to handle the rough tracks and gruelling nature of the course offered up by the unique parcours of the CiCLE Classic.

Earlier in the day the Junior Men, had their opportunity to show themselves over the same route and course once again after such a long period of inactivity.

The winner provided an equally outstanding performance to that of Smith, but in a slightly different manner.

After a solo breakaway from the main peloton by Joshua Tarling (FlandersCoilor Galloo) with some 30 kms remaining he was caught by a small group of three riders after a chase of around 10 kms.

One of his new companions was unlucky to puncture and fall way from the group, but the remaining three stayed together to the finish where Tarling, despite his earlier efforts was still strong enough to outsprint Finlay Pickering (Fensham Howes- MAS Design) and Zachary Walker (Otmost IOM Junior Cycling Team) who took the further podium places.

Both events were heavily over subscribed once again demonstrating the popularity of the CiCLE Classic events, which following these most recent editions continue to receive universal acclaim for their professionalism in promotion and the ability to show that Britain, and Melton Mowbray in particular, can stage classic cycle races as good as any to be found in mainland Europe.

Whilst overall sponsorship of the Women’s CiCLE Classic is provided by Peter Stanton a private individual and committed supporter of Women’s cycling, the events are further supported from a number of local and national companies.

Melton BID sponsor the start and finish in Sherrard Street, Dickinson and Morris provide the Pork pie, Brentingby Gin something to wash the Pork Pie down; Bioracer (UK) the winners jerseys: Schwalbe UK support vehicles and logistics; A&R Signs the winners trophies, Moores Estate Agents sign sponsorship; Tim Norton Motors (Ford) officials vehicles; Manor Farm Feeds sponsorship of the special prize in Owston, and Flower Paradise, race winners flowers.

As ever our enduring sponsor Duvel (UK) Belgian Beer will be supporting the event, and on this occasion with their appropriately new brew “6.66” as a celebration of the significance of the event.