The only one-day UCI race in the UK open to British Continental and elite teams, the race dubbed Britain’s ‘Belgian classic’ takes place this Sunday 28 April. Here’s a preview of
Rutland may well be the UK’s smallest county, but it gives name to the UK’s hardest-hitting race, and I for one will be watching withBritish Conti Insider
baitedbreath. The UK just needs more races like this
What is it?
A UCI 1.2 race, the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic is now in its 15th year. Taking place on roads and farm tracks across the undulating landscape of Rutland and East Leicestershire, it is one of the most spectator-friendly races on the UK calendar. It features the best of Britain’s smaller teams – Continental and elite – as well as a host of foreign-based teams.
Previous winners include Malcolm Elliot (at the age of 45), Conor Dunne and Zak Dempster, as well as Ian Wilkinson, the only man to have won the race twice. Two previous winners line-up for the race again – Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins Le Col) and Tom Moses (Madison Genesis) – and both will no doubt be hoping Wilkinson as two-time winners.
Click here for the final start list.
Nearly 200km long, the race starts in Oakham. Two high-speed laps of Rutland Water have this year been replaced by a winding route through Burley-on-the-Hill, Ashwell and Teigh to Wymondham. Four laps of varying length around Wymondham then follow, including two ascents of Butt Lane.
|11||Barleyberg||60.4 kms||1100 m||*****|
|10||Newbold||87.0 kms||1100 m||**|
|9||Manorberg (Pass 1)||97.5 kms||700 m||****|
|8||Manorberg (Pass 2)||120.0 kms||700 m||****|
|7||Somerberg||133.7 kms||2200 m||*****|
|6||Manorberg (Reverse)||136.7kms||1800 m||****|
|5||Newbold Manor||147.5 kms||1200 m||**|
|4||Somerberg (Reverse)||157.2 kms||2200 m||*****|
|3||StaplePark (Pass 1)||172.6 kms||2100 m||****|
|2||Sawgate||183.7 kms||500 m||*****|
|1||StaplePark (Pass 2)||189.6 kms||2100 m||****|
The race heads back to Oakham and then travels west to take in 11 special sectors including Barleyberg, ‘Somerberg’, ‘StaplePark’ and ‘Sawgate’, before finishing in Melton.
Rutland is tough. Make no bones about it. There are no soft winners, and to “get round” is an accomplishment in itselfBritish Conti Insider
The British Conti Insider’s view
Our ‘British Conti Insider’ is an active DS with experience in the UK and abroad.
It may seem odd to preview a race beginning with a rant, but here goes: The 2019 Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic is the only single-day UCI standard 1.2 in the UK. Let that sink in for a moment.
Race organiser, Colin Clews has once again come up trumps and is to be commended for his commitment to staging a UCI level event. With the sad loss (demotion) of the Beaumont Trophy and the Velothon, British racing is left with a solitary event for continental and club teams to compete in. This is to the detriment of racing standards and the opportunity for riders in smaller teams to shine on a higher stage in their own country. British Cycling needs to address this situation in conjunction with race organisers, and riders and team-managers alike need to stress the importance of these races, be they single day 1.2 or 1.1 events, or even a 2.2 stage-race. There, I’ve said it. Rant over.
Rutland is tough. Make no bones about it. There are no soft winners, and to “get
Much is made of ‘luck’ in this race, but I argue that the strongest riders will make their own luckBritish Conti Insider
Again, much is made of ‘luck’ in this race, but I argue that the strongest riders will make their own luck. Yes, the odds of a puncture or mechanical are raised by charging through farmland and unmade roads, but if a team/rider has made the right choice in equipment, done a thorough recce, have prepared helpers at sectors, and ultimately has the form to be at or near the front to be able to pick the line, then these odds are lowered, often negated. Punctures and mechanicals can occur in any race.
The standard of the field is very high; Rally (Pro Conti) bring a strong squad, and besides our domestic
Who to back? Who will win? Connor Swift, Gabz Cullaigh, Tom Pidcock, Tom Moses, Rob Scott, Koos Kors (3rdlast year), Scott Thwaites, Rory Townsend…? It is quite possibly the most difficult race to predict, and until the final
In this 15th edition, look as always for smaller teams to go for an early move, get some glory and coverage, however, the bigger teams will be happy to put a solo rider in a move, then sit back. There are some hidden gems in the peloton: a rejuvenated Russ Downing, Alex Luhrs, Adam Lewis, Steve Lampier, to say nothing of the overseas-based riders. And spare a thought for the event’s oldest ever competitor Colin Sturgess, who at 50 has forsaken the team-car for the bike.
Rutland may well be the UK’s smallest county, but it gives
Official start: 11.00. Expected finish: 15.40
Rain is forecast the day before the race, which could add mud into the mix. But the day itself is due to be dry with temperatures up to 13 degrees.
There will be no TV coverage of the race this year, alas, although the organiser hopes video highlights will be available at some point.
Feature photo: Conor Dunne (JLT Condor) wins the 2016 edition of the race
Photo: Andrew Peat / espies.world