OAKHAM’S Ryan Henry will be among almost 200 riders to take part in the “fastest, hardest and scariest race of the year” on Sunday.
Henry will race the 114 mile Oakham-Melton International CiCLE Classic alongside some of the world’s fastest cyclists.
The Rutland Rider is a Category Two road racer according to world rankings and he will line up alongside teams featuring Category One and Elite professional racers.
The race starts from Oakham High Street at 11am. The gruelling course takes in two laps of Rutland Water and a before a sprint to the line in Melton about four hours later.
The race takes a toll of victims each year with roughly half the riders failing to complete last year’s race and Henry admitted “just to finish is a good result”.
Henry, 33, who more often races for Rockingham Forest Wheelers, added: “Anything in the top 60 and within the cut-off is an achievement. My best finish was 42nd, or something like that, a couple of years ago.
“It was always a tough race and because of the kudos the race has gained it is getting harder. A lot of the riders are now full time.
Henry, who will wear the colours of an ad-hoc East Midlands Mountivation team on Sunday, added: "It's one of my favourite races and also my worst. It’s a great feeling being cheered through the town, and it is great to watch but it’s also the fastest, hardest and scariest race of the year. It’s a unique race.
“I have been training a long time and have the endurance but the weather can be a major factor. If it’s wet people pick up punctures easier. There are normally crashes but there is an increased risk of crashing if it’s wet."
Collisions are not surprising when Henry and his fellow riders will be clocking up to 60mph on the downhill stretches, and among the victims of the race in previous years is Mark Cavendish went on win the 2011 road World Champion crown, the 2011 British Sports Personality of the Year Award and an MBE.
Spectators can see the start of the race and a sprint section in Oakham High Street once the riders have returned from the Rutland Water loop. Good points to view the race are also along the country roads around Somerby, Owston, Burrough-on-the-Hill and towards the end of the race around Whissendine.
The CiCLE Classic has proved one of the most difficult races to predict a winner in each of the seven previous years and with 34 teams racing, this year’s race is as open as ever.
Last year’s winner Zak Dempster, who won a sprint finish between 11 racers, returns this year along with the 2010 winner Michael Berling of Denmark and both are expected to among the leaders.
l ON Saturday amateur cyclists are invited to join the Rutland CiCLE Tour which is held in conjunction with the Classic. The tour offers two courses – 50 and 100 miles – using many of the roads that the professional riders will tackle the following day.
On the morning of the Classic there will also be a race for lower level competitors in and around the Owston and Burrough-on-the-Hill circuits which will involve 70 cyclists from clubs including Velo Club Rutland.