The future of one of Britain’s biggest cycling events has been plunged into doubt this week after uncertainty over its sponsorship came to light.
The Rutland - Melton CiCLE Classic is Britain’s only international single day road cycle race but there are now fears that organisers will not be able to raise the costs needed to host next year’s event following a breakdown with sponsors.
Race director Colin Clews thought the race had secured its short-term future when he signed a three-year main sponsorship deal with Mountivation. But all contact has been lost with the north west based management development company after several changes of senior personnel.
Race organisers are now facing an uphill battle to raise the minimum £20,000 required to stage next year’s race, which is due to be held on April 21.
The 114-mile race starts in Oakham and takes riders through Langham, Cold Overton, Somerby, Knossington, Owston, Whissendine and around Rutland Water, before finishing in Melton. The event can bring thousands of people into Oakham who are welcomed by town traders.
Race director Colin Clews said: “After signing in January of this year a three-year contract with Mountivation to sponsor the event, we believed that the race was at least secure until 2014.
“Whatever the status of the formal contract with Mountivation that exists, which is to be investigated, it seems extremely unlikely the outcome will be helpful to next year’s race.
“If an alternative sponsor or sponsors are not found, the unthinkable that the race will have to be cancelled for 2013 seems inevitable.”
Mr Clews, of Wymondham, has worked on two Olympic Games and is currently heading preparations for cycling at the 2014 Commonwealth Games as Union Cyclist International’s technical delegate.
He has grown the race steadily over it’s six-year history and believes it could be developed to attract world class riders like Bradley Wiggins
Requests had already been received from eight overseas teams to ride in 2013 from as far afield as Poland, Slovakia and the United States.
He is also furious the race will not see a penny of UK Sport’s £27 million A Stage To Aspire fund, launched recently to bring major one-off sports events to Britain.
Mr Clews added: “We are not considered to be high profile enough even though we are an existing international cycle race and want to grow even further.
“All we are talking about is £20,000 or £30,000, but the events they are looking at cost at least half a million.
“That money is aimed at continuing the profile of sport from the Olympics and we are already doing that, we are bringing people into sport.
“We take low level club riders and get them into the CiCLE Classic. Suddenly they are in professional teams here and abroad and that opportunity comes down to performing in this race. That is the frustration of it.”
Anyone interested helping support the race should contact Mr Clews on 07979 856262.
For more information visit www.cicleclassic.co.uk