EUROPE’s top road racers will descend on Rutland for the 7th Rutland–Melton International CiCLE Classic on Sunday.
The annual race, which is Britain’s only international single day road race, has 10 foreign teams taking part this year with 170 cyclists from 17 different countries racing for 32 teams.
Riders start in Oakham High Street before completing a lap of Rutland Water and hill sections around Somerby, Owston and Burrough-on-the-Hill before a sprint to the line in Melton.
They expect to complete the 105 mile course in around four hours and the race is now so popular that 40 British riders failed to qualify and ten foreign teams had to be turned away.
Race director Colin Clews said: “The event has always been extremely popular but the unprecedented interest shown this year is an indicator not only of the event’s growing international reputation, but sadly also a reflection upon the increasing loss of similar events across Europe as would be sponsors reassess their publicity investments.
“The continuing strong interest amongst the local community that is so visible and audible throughout Rutland and Melton shows just what a great ‘free’ sporting event that has been created for our area.”
Once again the CiCLE Classic will boast representation from all of Britain’s big teams with the exception of Team Sky who are ineligible. Past winner Malcolm Elliott (2007) and former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt are set to return alongside reigning champion and wearer of the Number One jersey, Denmark’s Michael Berling.
Local interest will centre on just two riders, both from Oakham. James Cambridge, rides again after several impressive performance in previous years, and is joined by Ryan Henry, who after suffering bad luck several times, feels that he has a score to settle with this most unforgiving of races.
As a prelude to the race, on Saturday afternoon a team car and riders will be at Tesco from about 2pm to sign autographs and answer any question about the race. Entertainment and an Italian fair have also been arranged for the start on Sunday, when a youth CiCLE race will take from around 9am.