British racer Ian Wilkinson won a sprint finish to become the first rider to win the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic for a second time on Sunday.
Wilkinson’s victory capped an exciting race in which only 60 of the field of 179 starters completed the course.
The 183km race, now in its ninth year, began in Oakham with riders heading out to complete two laps of Rutland Water before returning to tear through Oakham and head towards Somerby, Whissendine and eventually Melton.
Among the riders on the start line at Oakham’s Market Place were 2012 winner, Frenchman Alexander Blain and Olympic team pursuit champion Ed Clancy; but neither of those riders - or the eventual winner - were in the breakaway trio who set the early pace.
Ian Bibby, Yanto Barker and New Zealand’s Tom Scully pulled away to lead by 30 seconds within the opening miles of the race. As their lead grew a second group emerged from the peloton in a bid to bridge the gap and the front group of 11 led by three and a half minutes by the time the racers sped back through Oakham.
A train was held up to allow riders over Oakham’s Melton Road crossing without being held up and the riders headed up Cold Overton hill with American Manuel Bello Calixto dominating the hill section as the leading group pulled ahead.
Riders began to fall away as the pot-holed and gravel roads around Somerby and Owston took their toll, and members of the leading group changed repeatedly.
Heading into the final stage at Melton, six riders remained out in front and as they rounded the last corner Bibby was in front and looked to have the win sewn up.
But in the final 200m, Wilkinson, riding for the UK Youth Team owned by former Formula One champion Nigel Mansell, showed his experience to repeat his 2009 victory, timing his sprint to perfection.
Speaking after the race Race Director Colin Clews said: “Over past few years the Rutland–Melton CiCLE Classic has really come of age.
“The quality of the racing and professionalism that we attain each year is the envy of every other single day race in Britain. Its reputation is becoming widely known across several continents and in doing so the area and attractions are also highlighted in a unique way.”
He thanked all the race sponsors including joint title sponsors The Giant Store and Schwalbe Tyres.
Rutland’s only rider in the race, Ryan Henry, was among the 120 riders who did not finish the tough course.