Melton will once more host one of the toughest races in women’s cycling when the CiCLE Classic returns for its second instalment of the year.
With the elite men having made their push for glory over the rough and tumble of the Classic course, it’s over to the women and juniors editions on Sunday.
With current Olympic and world champions Katie Archibald (2017) and Neah Evans (2018) having won the past two editions, a battle royal is expected for top honours in the fourth edition of the women’s race.
It starts at 2pm from Sherrard Street and finish at the same point at about 5.15pm after the 105km course is covered.
It will again form round three of the British Cycling National Women’s Road Race Series and more than 100 of Britain’s best women road racers are expected.
CiCLE Classics race director Colin Clews believes the riders will face possibly the hardest course of any women’s race in the world.
”From the outset, we have aimed to make the Women’s CiCLE Classic a replica in quality and presentation of its international big brother,” he said.
“We wanted to provide British women racers with an event that tests them to the extreme, and replicates the cut and thrust of continental racing, something that only the CiCLE Classic offers.”
Another thing that makes the women’s Classic different is in its promotion.
It is the only race on the British calendar to be sponsored by a single individual, meaning organisers do not need to chase and publicise commercial interests.
“When initially approached by Pete Stanton four years ago and asked if I would stage a women’s race similar to the men’s race I was unsure of what to expect,” Clews admitted.
“But once I realised Pete was sincere and that his love and passion to see women’s racing develop in the UK was his driving force, the answer could only be ‘yes’.
“The result is as we now see a race that has created its own momentum and reputation.”
Its £1,000 first prize is more than winners receive at the National Championships – men and women – and there are prizes all the way down to 20th place.
Following much of the hardest parts of the men’s route, the women’s course will take in five passages of Owston village, considered the heart of the CiCLE Classic, as well as two passages of the dreaded Somerberg off-road sector, near Somerby.
There will also be an ascent of Cold Overton Hill to open the Queen of the Hills competition which also takes in Burrough and Cuckoo Hills.
The race will pass through the finish line in Sherrard Street before taking in a 15km finishing circuit involving Burton Road, Sawgate Lane, Stapleford Lane and Saxby Road before returning to the finish.
The day will centre around the women’s race, but in the morning the junior men will first take to similar roads for the sixth edition of their CiCLE Classic. Recent junior races have followed the same course as the women, but a clash of dates with the Stapleford Park miniature steam open day has forced a change to the finish route to Melton town centre.
The junior men will not tackle the finishing circuit, but instead a reverse passage of Sawgate special sector followed by a fast descent down Burton Road and a technical final kilometre to enter the Sherrard Street finish straight in the usual direction.
The race will start at 9.30am and take in a 98.1km course, including another lap of the Owston-Burrough circuit.