The appeal of the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic has reached new levels with overseas teams keener than ever to attempt its unique challenge.
No fewer than 46 teams have already indicated a wish to take part in the UK’s first UK international race of the year.
This includes a big rise in the number of foreign squads vying for the 10 slots available to overseas teams.
“The quality of the foreign teams applying to enter this year is much higher”, explained race director Colin Clews.
“It’s gratifying to all involved that the race’s reputation is so high throughout the cycling world, and continuing to grow.”
As well as being part of the UCI Europe Tour, the race has also been chosen to join the inaugural LCT Euro Cup series alongside several prestigious European races. It is one of only two British races chosen alongside Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
A new route for this year’s 15th edition, on Saturday, April 28, was officially launched last week, with the race director’s home village of Wymondham at the heart of a fresh look.
The extended 198.5km course will cross the village five times in just 35 minutes, featuring two 4.8km laps and then a further two of 6.5km, and including two new hot spot sprints at Wymondham Windmill.
It features early in the race, in place of the laps of Rutland Water, and plenty of action is expected before riders snake their way back towards the race’s traditional Owston heartland.
With so many teams looking to take part, and with a 176-rider limit, no more than 20 teams will be allowed to field the maximum of six riders.
Remaining squads will be given four places each to allow a high number of smaller British teams to compete.
From the 26 smaller teams in the hat, organisers will choose around 15 wildcards, based on merit, within the next few weeks.
Melton’s own semi-professional team, Metalktek, left cycling the season after their unforgettable victory in 2017, but the machine engineering company will again join the race as sponsor of the primary off-road sections of Somerberg, StaplePark and Sawgate.
After 14 years support of the race’s official vehicles, Tim Norton (Ford) Motors of Oakham are also to be joined by more substantive support from Ford UK to meet the increased demands set by the UCI over vehicles used in race convoys.