International appetite remains strong for Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic
Full field identified
Eleven foreign squads have already shown their interest in this year's Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic - showing the international appetite for the race remains strong.
After an absence of two years owing to the Covid pandemic, the 16th edition of the popular event will take place on Sunday, April 24.
“Although in 2021 we were able to stage our Women’s and Junior Men’s versions of the CiCLE Classic in June, the loss of the International race in 2020 and 2021 has been sorely felt within the domestic race calendar,” said race director Colin Clews.
“With only the prestigious Tour of Britain managing to take place last year, the domestic scene, has been totally devoid of international racing on the road and therefore the return of the CiCLE Classic is eagerly awaited by teams and spectators alike.”
Once again the race will be Britain’s only single day cycle road race for Elite Men.
In 2022 it will also be the first major race in Britain before British Cycling’s own national series open two weeks later with the Lincoln Grand Prix.
Despite the gap of two years since 2019 when the last edition of the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic was held, won by Colin Joyce of the US Rally Cycling-UHC team, enthusiasm to participate in the event has seemingly only increased by the absence.
A full field of 176 has already having been identified to take part, including 11 foreign squads.
Clews continued: "We are extremely grateful that our two title sponsors, the Giant Store (Rutland Water) and Schwalbe UK have remained loyal during these difficult times and will again headline the race.
"Thanks are also due to the many other local and national companies that have agreed to continue their support for ourselves.
"Staging a race at any level is difficult in normal circumstances, but with the pandemic having affected so many lives and businesses, we hope that the restoration of the race can perhaps prove a further step towards normality within the wider local and sporting community.”
Whilst Rally Cycling/UHC, now renamed Human Powered Health will not be defending their title from 2019, 2018 winner Gabz Cullaigh, now riding for British based team Saint Piran will carry race number one in his search for a second win so closely denied by Joyce in 2019.
The foreign interest in the race continues unabated despite the potential travel difficulties which it is hoped will have eased by the time April arrives.
Teams from Belgium, The Netherlands, Latvia, Spain, Ireland and France are already listed for the race with the greater presence of British riders within European teams possibly contributing to that interest.
The latest team having committed to the race being the new Philippe Wagner team from France who have newly joined to their squad Charlie Quarterman who has been with the Trek-Segafredo World Tour team for the past two seasons.
Recent changes made by the International Cycling Union to the maximum distance that the race can cover, has necessitated adaptions to the course from previous years, but additional passages of existing special sectors are promised as is a repeat of the successful introduction of the Wymondham circuits shortly after the race start.
All Britain’s top domestic teams will be represented at the race with several smaller teams and clubs being given the opportunity to show their prowess on home soil against international competition.
In all, more than 30 teams are expected to be on the start line in Oakham town centre at 11am on April 24.
As ever, the questions will then be just how many last the challenging 180km route to Melton, and who will cross the finish line first in Melton town centre some four and a half hours later?