A week of sunshine and warm temperatures meant a dusty ride for the 169 competitors from 18 nationalities and they responded to the challenge by a race run off at an average of nearly 40 kms an hour, a major achievement in itself over the rough and tortuous course that the CiCLE Classic offers.
On the run-up to Wymondham, Ollie Peckover (Ribble-Weldtite Pro Cycling) seized the initiative and won all three of the sprints on offer as he struck out ahead of the peloton alongside Spirit BSS’s Farley Barber.
With 31 km gone, the pair had stretched out a lead of more than six minutes and were sitting in a good position as the race hit the truly rough sectors for the first time.
Peckover and Barker formed the early break.
However, that’s where the gap started to shrink.
With tricky gravel sections kicking up a lot of dust and sapping energy from the legs, Peckover and Barber started to have their advantage eaten too thanks to a concerted chase effort behind.
As well the Peckover and Barker breakaway, the early part of the race was also marred by some heavy crashes.
On the first run up the Manorberg, they had 5 minutes and 45 seconds over a seven-rider chase group which featured Jacob Scott (WiV-SunGod), Finn Crockett (Ribble-Weldtite Pro Cycling), Max Walker (Trinity Racing), Tomas Kopecky (À Bloc CT), Bas Van Belle (WPGA Amsterdam), Bob Donaldson (GB Cycling Team) and Roberto Gonzalez (Java Kiwi Atlántico).
However, as the lead duo traversed the Manorberg climb for the second time, that chase group had sliced their advantage down to just over two minutes, and effective work by the seven meant the only question was when, not if, the chase would be caught.
They hung on for much longer than many would have expected, with the chase only catching the lead after the penultimate run of the Owston sector – this time in reverse – as Barber ran into a mechanical issue in the feed zone after the Green Lane sector leaving Owston.
Slimmed down slightly after a bike issue for Gonzalez, the group merged with a counter group of six and as they came across the finish line in Melton Mowbray for the first time, Stuart Balfour (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) decided to clip off the front, with Kopecky taking off after him.
The move meant Balfour was leading as they crossed the finished line for the final lap, winning him the infamous giant pork pie prize the race is famous for.
With 8km to go, Balfour and Kopecky came together, with Scott joining them for company. Sensing an opportunity, Ribble Weldtite committed another rider as Finn Crockett bridged the gap and joined the trio for the run down the arrow-straight finishing road.
As Balfour dropped off from the lead group, the remaining trio unleashed a ferocious sprint to the line, with Crockett having just enough left in his legs to pip Kopecky to the line in a sprint that could have gone to either of them.
Scott finished a length behind in third, with Balfour coming home a couple of seconds down in fourth.
Whilst Giant (Rutland Water) and Schwalbe UK (Tyres) were for a record eighth time the main sponsor of the event was strongly supported by the following companies and groups: Melton BID, Carter Legrand Wealth Strategies, Bioracer UK, Metaltek engineering, Tim Norton Motors (Ford), Pearces jewellers, Oakham Wines, The Grainstore Brewery, Moores Estate Agents, Dickinson & Morris, Wymondham Windmill, Brentingby Gin, Manor Farm Feeds, Newstyle Print, A&R Sign, plus a private donation on behalf of the Oakham Canal Green Corridor Project.