CYCLING: Classic used as Olympic test

TEAMS from more than 20 countries will race from Oakham to Melton in the eighth annual CiCLE Classic at the end of April.

With the London Olympic road races only a few months away, many of the foreign riders are using the Rutland-based race as an opportunity to test their legs on British soil.

The Mountivation CiCLE Classic takes place on April 21 with a field of 180 riders including 2011 race winner Zak Dempster and 2010 winner Michael Berling, and Britain’s top teams will face their hardest challenge ever with professional teams coming from as far afield as South America and Africa.

It is the first time that non-European teams will have raced at the event and they could not have chosen a more difficult year to join as the distance of this year’s race has been extended by 15 kilometres to its longest yet - 183 kilometres.

Race Director Colin Clews announced the backing of two more Rutland businesses this week saying: “We are very pleased to have local companies such as Newstyle and Oakham Wines come on board. The support of such companies along with our main sponsors Mountivation and Dolmio (MARS UK) is crucial to providing top class racing for promising young British riders on home soil.

“Five years ago one such rider in the CiCLE Classic was Mark Cavendish who now, five years later, is World Champion and one of the favourites for London 2012.”

The day before to the CiCLE Classic, the Rutland CiCLE Tour will be held in which amateur riders can test themselves over 100 and 50 miles courses.