After an enforced absence of two years the 16th edition of the Rutland-Melton international CiCLE Classic finally returns to Rutland and East Leicestershire roads and tracks on Sunday.
Start time as usual will be 11.00 am from Oakham’s Market Place, which will be presided over by local MP Ms Alicia Kerans.
With a field comprising 34 teams and 176 riders representing 18 nations in total the event look set to once again to be the Spring highlight of the British racing calendar and the biggest road event in Britain so far this year.
The only one day international road race for Elite Men in Britain the race is eagerly awaited by both competitors and fans alike.
All the top British domestic teams who this year have so far had to cross the Channel to enjoy this level of racing will be there, joined by three Dutch, three Irish, one French, one Spanish and a Latvian National team.
In addition for only the second time in the race’s history the CiCLE Classic with host a Great Britain National selection who have so far this year enjoyed notaoble success in leading Under 23 races within Europe.
“It is wonderful to see the race in all its glory return to our local roads”, said race director Colin Clews.
“We have selected a route not unlike previous years but with a few added challenges despite the reduction of the overall race distance from 200 to 180 kilometres.
“For instance the famed ‘Somerberg’ special sector will on this occasion be traversed three times instead of the customary two passages of previous years, doing so before reaching the heart of the race at Owston for the first time will be an exciting prospect.”
Whilst Owston will once again welcome fans existing fans and new visitors alike to their barbecue offerings and carnival atmosphere, the race will once again visit Wymondham village where its four circuits of the village will provide a spectacle that fans should not wish to miss.
Wymondham Windmill will be the scene of the first intermediate sprint of the race and a further sprint outside the Berkeley Arms on Main Street heralds the last passage of the race as it returns to Oakham.
But before once again contesting the Oakham Town Sprint sponsored by Oakham Wines on the reverse passage of the start line adjacent to the Market Square, a special Return to Rutland award will be on offer at Teigh with the winner receiving a bottle of Osprey Migration gin for their efforts.
Owing to the extremely poor condition of the Barleyberg special sector after leaving Oakham the race will on this occasion detour directly up Cold Overton Road rather than via Barleythorpe but the climb out of the town is expected to present some difficulty to the field as the first real ascent of the day.
It is then on to Owston and the crucial sections of the course before the race begins its progress towards the finish in Melton’s Sherrard Street via Cuckoo Hill and Stapleford Park and Sawgate Lane special sectors.
The first passage of Melton will as ever host the special Town Sprint sponsored by Dickinson & Morris who once again present a large pork pie to the first rider into the town.
It will be a further 17 kilometres further on however before we will know the winner when the race finishes at the same point around 15.45 pm.
Only one competitor, number one Gabs Cullaigh, amongst the field has tasted victory previously in the race and he will be wishing to avenge his near miss second victory in 2019 when he was pipped on the line by Colin Joyce of the US Rally Racing Team.
Without Joyce this time and with two years behind him riding at World Tour level Cullaigh must hope that an elusive second victory at CiCLE Classic can be his.
However, as well as facing many others wishing to score a much coveted CiCLE Classic win on their palmares, he will also face tough challenges from two others, Harry Tanfield of Ribble-Weldtite and Charlie Quarterman of the Philippe Wagner team, who have equally competed at the World Tour level in recent years.
Meanwhile Rory Townsend, third in 2019 and his teammate Jacob Scott from the WiV-Sungod team form a handy combination to potentially upset the plans of many teams.
The CiCLE Classic is now the longest running single day international race in the country and continues to be primarily sponsored by The Giant Store (Rutland Water) and Schwalbe Tyres UK, whilst Tim Norton Motors (ford0 of Oakham provide the official race vehicles Moores Estate Agents sponsor the race signage.
The Grainstore Brewery of Oakham also sponsor once again the more bizarre award of a rider#s weight in beer which will be contested in the village of Owston, which with its carnival spirit on race day and endless BBQ’s is regarded as the heart of the CiCLE Classic.