The popularity of this year’s 14th Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic is becoming stronger than ever.
Following the introduction of two new off road sectors into the 2017 route, this year’s race on Sunday, April 22, will once again follow the same 189kms course intended to test both man and machine to their limits on what is arguably the toughest and certainly the most unique race course in Britain.
With teams from France The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Finland, Spain and Latvia already committed to the event, this year’s race more than ever will herald the conclusion of the Spring Classics season and provide a fitting introduction to international racing within Britain in 2018.
Billed as ‘Britain’s only real Belgian style’ classic race, interest from British squads to be part of the event has once again increased over previous years, despite the current crisis facing many established teams, a number of whom have ceased to exist over the winter period.
One such team to disappear, at least for 2018, is Melton-based Metaltek-Kuota who fielded last year’s surprise but popular winner in Dan Fleeman.
Team owner Andy Swain has decided to take a year away from the stresses of top class domestic racing.
Fleeman after an illustrious career, including riding at the world’s highest level, has decided to retire from competition following a winter of contemplation, so a new winner of the race in 2018 is guaranteed.
He will not be lost to the race, however, as he has agreed to return in 2018 as a guest, and to give the official start of the race.
There will be several new sponsors with Bills Bar of Oakham sponsoring the start area in the Market Place, and ReallyMoving.com providing the new sponsorship of the King of the Bergs competition which will be contested as usual over six climbs within the overall race route.
Pearce’s jewellers of Melton and Oakham also step in to sponsor the timing car that will proceed both the international race in April as well as the junior men’s and women’s races in June.
Race director Colin Clews commented: “Last year we added two passages of Stapleford Park into the race route, and these as expected provided a new challenge to the final stages of the CiCLE Classic, and we are indebted to Stapleford Farm and Estate that this is now an integral part of the course used.
“The iconic photographs taken in and around this section of the race have been shown around the world and it is wonderful that anyone who missed these in 2017 will have the chance to see the spectacle that the race creates through this beautiful setting.”
Having hosted golf tournaments and other top class sporting activities in the Park, this will be the first time ever that a cycle race of any type has passed through the grounds, and along what will be a completely new 2.2 kms off road section of the CiCLE Classic course.
Once again in 2018 the CiCLE Classic races have taken the step of choosing as their adopted local charity, The Mount Group, Riding for the Disabled (RDA) based at Somerby Equestrian Centre.
Clews continued: “The work of the Mount Group in providing opportunities for less able children and adults to experience the enjoyment of horse riding is tremendously rewarding, deserving widespread recognition and support.
“That they are based in Somerby, in the heart of our CiCLE Classic courses, makes them an ideal candidate for us to adopt as our chosen charity.
“Over the 14 years that the races have operated we have greatly appreciated the co-operation of the local stables and equestrian community whose usual roads and tracks we have the privilege of using on race days.
“By supporting The Mount Group RDA in this way we hope that we are giving back to a community who have enabled the race’s success.
“We hope that by promoting the work of the group, we can also help educate the wider cycling community to respect horse riders when encountering them on their regular rides.”
The collaboration with The Mount Group RDA is intended to take the form of offering opportunities for raising awareness of the work of the group, by advertising them alongside the races, and providing opportunities for the Group to raise much needed regular funds to enable their valuable work to continue and expand.
The associated Rutland CiCLE Tour sportif events starting and finishing at the CiCLE Classic race sponsors Giant Store premises at Normanton will once again be held on Saturday, April 21, the day prior to the international race and expect to draw in more than 1,500 cyclists to the area.