Previews Races

Women’s CiCLE Classic: race preview

Preview of Round 3 of the women's National Road Series, with race insight and analysis from Colin Sturgess

Round 3 of the women’s National Road Series takes place this Sunday in Leicestershire at the women’s CiCLE Classic. Here’s a preview of the race, including race insight and predictions from Colin Sturgess.

Make no mistake, whoever takes home the £1000 first prize (and pork pie) will be a worthy winner

Colin Sturgess

What is it?

This is the fourth edition of the women’s CiCLE Classic. Like the men’s version, the race takes place on roads and farm tracks across the undulating landscape of Rutland and East Leicestershire.

Previous winners include Neah Evans, Katie Archibald, and Rebecca Durrell. Durrell (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm) returns this year and will be donning the National Road Series leaders’ jersey after a stellar start to the road season.

East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix, 2019. Photo: James York

The route

The race starts and finishes in Melton Mowbray. 105km long, the three-part route takes in many of the off-road sectors that will be familiar to those who have followed the men’s race over the years, including Somerberg, Sawgate and Newbold Manor.

Colin Sturgess’ view 

Colin Sturgess is a former track world champion and professional road cyclist who has also managed domestic teams Metaltek-Kuota and Madison Genesis

It’s a busy weekend as the HSBC UK | National Road Series returns after a few weeks’ hiatus for round three of the series. The men’s peloton take to the roads of Lancaster for the inaugural Lancaster GP, whilst the women’s peloton head to the rural lanes and fields (quite literally) of Leicestershire for the fourth edition of this gruelling race.

A truncated parcours sees the women covering 105km of a very circuituious course that will take in the off-road sectors of Sawgate Lane, Somerberg, Manor Farm, and Newbold Manor, and the three categorised climbs of the day: Burrough Berg, Cold Overton Berg, and Cuckooberg. For spectators, as with the men’s edition, the loops and laps around the village of Owston (where the race passes no less than five times!) is the place to catch the action, and as always the atmosphere promises to be fun-filled. It is a race of lefts and rights, of ups and downs, and staying alert is paramount.

There will be hard fought racing into the sectors, and the smart riders will race harder still off the sectors to consolidate any advantage and cause more splits. Luck does play a part, but I’d argue skill and positioning (as well as a decent bit of good old “grunt”) is more crucial.

The weather can and does play a big factor over these lanes and roads, as does a well organised team and helpers. Knowing where to have staff and helpers with wheels is paramount to success if the worst happens. Too often teams rely on the car (or neutral service) when a bit of forethought and planning could have a rider serviced at the road side and back on in seconds without the car having to make its way up and waste valuable seconds. Riders too are at times their own worst enemy when they simply stop. Don’t! Ride it flat until you get to the helper, or the car comes up! All this said and done, don’t for a second forget that there is an awful lot of hard racing to be done between sectors, and those three QoMs will cause splits and whittle the field down in numbers.

Brother UK–Tifosi p/bOn Form celebrate winning the East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix, 2019. Photo: James York

So who to watch? I can’t see far beyond the strongest team and a few individuals to be frank. Brother UK–Tifosi p/bOn Form are on a purple patch, with Rebecca Durrell (winner here in 2016) currently in the series lead, and backed by a strong selection including Leah Dixon and Anna Henderson [Ed – Henderson is currently racing the Tour de Bretagne Féminim so might not be at this race]. However, the incredibly talented Elynor Backstedt could throw a spanner in the works for Storey Racing, as could Lucy Shaw and Hannah Payton for Drops. It’s worth mentioning that although the strongest teams (and those with numbers and support) most often come up with the goods, a smaller team or individual can sneak through for the win as exemplified by men’s winner Dan Fleeman (Metaltek – Kuota) in 2017. Yeah, I know, I was his DS, mea maxima culpa! So keep an open mind and an eye on strong competitors such as Jo Tindley, Lauren Dolan, and Leicester’s own April Tacey. 

Make no mistake, whoever takes home the £1000 first prize (and pork pie) will be a worthy winner. 

Timings

14.00 – 17.15 approx

Weather

The forecast says should be dry with temperatures up to 17 degrees. There will be a gentle breeze, so wind shouldn’t interfere with the race.

TV

Highlights of the race will be shown on Eurosport.

Featured photo: James York, East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix 2019

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