Organisers of the famous Rutland - Melton CiCLE Classic are launching a new race in 2016 for the top professional women cyclists in the country.
The inaugural Women’s CiCLE Classic will take place on Sunday, July 17. The race is modelled on the Belgian Classics, particularly the Tour of Flanders with its off-road sections.
The event will start and finish in Melton Mowbray, it will differ only in distance and start point from the men’s international race, which begins in Oakham and will be held for the 12th time this year on April 24.
The women will cover many of the roads used by the elite men with the passages of ‘Somerberg’ and Owston village featuring in the expected 100 -110kms course. As with the men’s race, the event will conclude with a 15km finishing circuit in and through Melton Mowbray which takes in the infamous ‘Sawgate’ special sector, with just 12km remaining.
While the event is aimed at the top road racing Women in Britain, with its late introduction to the calendar its final status is yet to be agreed with officials at British Cycling, but is expected to be an elite National A race under British Cycling Federation regulations. With a £1000 cash first prize on offer it is expected that the event will prove as popular as April’s International CiCLE Classic.
CiCLE Classics Race Director Colin Clews said: “We intend to make the Women’s CiCLE Classic a replica in quality of its International big brother, in terms of presentation and professionalism.”
The offer to cover the costs of a separate international women’s race emerged as an offshoot of the Classic’s crowdfunding bid which aimed to raise £15,000 to secure guaranteed TV coverage of next year’s men’s race.
Just £2,000 was raised during the 30-day window, but race director Colin Clews said new developments had made up for the disappointment of the total tally.
“Two years ago we aimed to stage a Women’s CiCLE Classic, but at the time the alternative venue and course could not achieve the standard that we wished to see.
“However, during our recent TV Crowdfunding initiative, we were approached by someone wishing to support the promotion of domestic women’s racing and in particular a Women’s CiCLE Classic.
As a result of positive discussions with the individual sponsor and together with local partners, the project has come together and happily can be raced on the CiCLE Classic’s home territory.”
Although at present the event lacks a title sponsor, it is expected that several of the sponsors of the international men’s race may wish to be involved also with the Women’s CiCLE Classic. The organisation are however seeking new sponsors although they stress that the current underwriting of the event ensures that the inaugural event will take place as planned, with a field of 120 riders having been requested.
The day will centre around the women’s race, but an added attraction will be the Dare2b Melton CiCLE Challenge sportives for all comers, male and female which will start earlier in the day from Melton Mowbray and finish at the same town centre finishing point as that used later by the Women’s CiCLE Classic. The courses for each of the sportives will also cover many of the roads covered by the Women, including the off road sections of ‘Somerberg’ and Owston.
The Dare2b Melton CiCLE Challenge sportives will be organised in partnership with the experienced Cycle Classics organisation.
Entries for both the Women’s CiCLE Classic and Dare2b Melton CiCLE Challenge sportives will be open shortly via the British Cycling On Line entry system.
Fundraising towards TV exposure for the men’s race will continue through sale of merchandise and donations, and Clews remains convinced the men’s CiCLE Classic will be broadcast to a wider audience next April.
While falling way short of the target, the publicity from the fundraising drive has attracted interest from TV production companies which could drive down the eventual cost of coverage.
Clews is also considering live streaming of the race online to reach a global audience.
The Classic attracts teams and riders from all over the world and next year is set to feature elite ‘Grand Tour’ teams for the first time.
“We may have fallen very short of that target, but what has come out of the 30 days is encouraging,” Clews added.
“It gives us confidence and has opened up new avenues of development.”
To donate, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/CiCLEClassic