Rutland may well be the UK’s smallest county, but it gives name to the UK’s hardest-hitting race. So, after an enforced absence of two years, we cannot wait for the 16th edition of the men’s Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic, which returns to the roads and farm tracks of Rutland and East Leicestershire this Sunday, 22 April. With a field comprising 34 teams and 176 riders representing 18 nations in total, it will mark the first major race in the domestic calendar this year.
What is it?
A men’s UCI 1.2 race, the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic is now in its 16th 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 is also Britain’s only one-day UCI road race and one of only two UCI road races for men, the other being the Tour of Britain.
The race’s unique terrain means it is often dubbed Britain’s ‘Belgian classic’, but in reality, it is closer in nature to races like Brittany’s Tro-Bro Léon; think dusty farm tracks and gravel rather than cobbles.
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. Gabriel Cullaigh (Saint Piran) won in 2018 and very nearly won the last edition in 2019 too, only to raise his arms in celebration a little too early and find himself pipped to the line by Rally Cycling’s Colin Joyce.
At 183.5 kilometres, the 2022 edition is slightly shorter than it was in 2019, but the racing should be no less fierce for it. As with previous editions, the race will feature a dizzying route which takes the riders over six different sectors, some of which are visited more than once and tackled from different directions.
Starting in the village of Oakham by Rutland Water, the route heads north at first to Wymondham where awaiting fans will be treated to four circuits of the village. Here, Wymondham Windmill will be the scene of the first intermediate sprint of the race and a further sprint outside the Berkeley Arms on Main Street before the peloton heads back south again to return to Oakham. On the reverse passage through the start line in Oakham there is another sprint (the Oakham Town Sprint).
It is shortly after Oakham that the riders will reach the first off-road sector, Barleyberg. The organiser has rather each sector by severity and, as a two-star sector, the Barleyberg offers the riders a comparatively gentle start to the off-road action.
With the Barleyberg tackled, it is then on to Owston – a popular spot for fans to congregate – and the crucial sections of the course. Multiple traverses of the challenging sectors of the Somerberg and the Manorberg – as well as the ascents of Cold Overton Berg and Burrough Berg – should serve to thin the peloton out. Major selections should be made here.
|11||Barleyberg||48.47 kms||1100 m||**|
|10||Somberberg||65.83 kms||2200 m||****|
|9||Manorberg (Pass 1)||78.54 kms||700 m||****|
|8||Manorberg (Pass 2)||101.31 kms||700 m||****|
|7||Somerberg||116.12 kms||2200 m||*****|
|6||Manorberg (Reverse)||120.32 kms||1800 m||****|
|5||Newbold Manor||130.77 kms||1200 m||**|
|5a||Manorberg (Pass 3)||141.03 kms||700 m||***|
|4||Somerberg (Reverse)||143.03 kms||2200 m||*****|
|3||StaplePark (Pass 1)||157.00 kms||2100 m||****|
|2||Sawgate||168.16 kms||500 m||*****|
|1||StaplePark (Pass 2)||174.69 kms||2100 m||****|
The Somerberg, in particular, is a brute. At 2.2 km, it is tackled three times in all, and comprises a rutted farm track with grass verges on one side of the summit and loose gravel on the other.
After the last time over the Somerberg, which the riders cross in reverse, the race then begins its progress towards the finish in Melton via Cuckoo Hill and the StaplePark and Sawgate sectors. The first passage of Melton Mowbray will as ever host the special town sprint sponsored by Dickinson & Morris, with the first rider across the line winning themselves a famous giant pork pie.
The race then takes in a final lap of the Melton Mowbray circuit before the finish on Sherrard Street.
So who to watch out for? At the time of writing, we have only seen a provisional startlist which is almost certainly outdated. Whatsmore, this is one of the most difficult domestic races to predict. An untimely mechanical or another slice of bad luck can ruin a rider’s chances in an instant. And as 2017 winner Dan Fleeman proved, riders from the smaller teams shouldn’t be discounted either; the small Metaltek team produced the ride of the day despite not having been thought of as a threat.
Our excuses out of the way, there are nonetheless a number of names that are high up on our watchlist.
Wearing bib number one, previous winner Gabz Cullaigh (Saint Piran) immediately stands out. The former WorldTour rider is on his way back from Covid, so his form is an unknown going into the race, but he certainly has the pedigree and the know-how to win. [Update, 22 Apr. Cullaigh has withdrawn from the race as he is still recovering from Covid].
WiV SunGod has the strongest squad in our view. Rory Townsend is back on form after finishing 6th at Arno Wallard Memorial last weekend. He was third in 2019 and if he hit the top of his form this weekend, he could be a difficult man to beat if he avoids ill fortune. And in Matt Gibson and Jacob Scott (4th in 2019) also in the team, WiV SunGod have at least three riders that are firmly in the ‘hot favourites’ bracket.
Domestic rivals Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling will also be looking for a top result. Former WorldTour Harry Tanfield certainly has the power if he can engineer a solo move or a small break. And Finn Crockett was on top form at the recent Tour du Loir et Cher, grabbing three top tens on the way to a top ten placing on GC.
Charlie Quarterman rode this race back in 2019, featuring in the breakaway. He has since gone from aspiring youngster to hardened WorldTour rider. Now at the French elite outfit Phillipe Wagner Cycling, this race could provide him with the perfect stage to court the attention of WorldTour teams once more. He has been in fine form so far this season and this race should suit him.
TRINITY Racing always bring an exciting young team but are still awaiting a big result on the road this year. Max Walker and Sam Culverwell have had solid if not spectacular starts to the season and they are both riders we have tipped in the past. Could this race be their breakthrough?
Callum MacLeod’s A Bloc CT are arguably the strongest of the international teams at the race. Their Latvian rider Martin Pluto in particular is capable of top results in semi-classics like these and has a fast finish so shouldn’t be discounted. Joren Bloem is another rider on excellent form at the moment (3rd in the recent Olympia’s Tour), although isn’t on the provisional startlist.
Who else? Isaac Mundy (Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus) goes very well off-road, so could be an outsider to watch. Charlie Paige (BC North West Region) was second at the recent Circuit de Saone et Loire and is due a big result. On the same team is Ben Granger; he got several top results in national races last year, and could well feature here. Great Britain have several young talents. Could this be a day for Bob Donaldson, 7th in the U23 Gent-Wevelgem this year?
Predictions. WiV SunGod have three potential winners in Rory Townsend, Matt Gibson and Jacob Scott, so our money is one from this trio to take the win.
|19||Bodi||DEL GROSSO||A Bloc CT|
|20||Lars||LOOHUIS||A Bloc CT|
|21||Callum||MaCLEOD||A Bloc CT|
|22||Martin||PLUTO||A Bloc CT|
|23||Jesper||RASCH||A Bloc CT|
|24||Meindert||WEULINK||A Bloc CT|
|39||Oscar||NILSSON JULIEN||Great Britain|
|42||Corran||CARRICK ANDERSON||Great Britain|
|43||Zavi||CANELLAS||Java Kiwi Atlantico|
|44||Gaizka||GURRUCHAGA||Java Kiwi Atlantico|
|45||Andreas||MILTIADIS||Java Kiwi Atlantico|
|46||Nikifords||ARVANITOU||Java Kiwi Atlantico|
|47||Edwin||TORRES||Java Kiwi Atlantico|
|48||Yuki||ISHIHARA||Java Kiwi Atlantico|
|49||Daire||FEELEY||Evo Pro Racing|
|50||Maarten||VERHEYEN||Evo Pro Racing|
|51||Eamon||FRANCK||Evo Pro Racing|
|52||Conn||McDUNPHY||Evo Pro Racing|
|53||RHYS||BRITTON||Evo Pro Racing|
|54||Tiom||MORIARTY||Evo Pro Racing|
|61||Roberts||CUKURS||Latvian National Team|
|62||Roberts||ANDERSONS||Latvian National Team|
|63||Rodzers||PETAKS||Latvian National Team|
|64||Karlis||KLISMETS||Latvian National Team|
|65||Oskars||DANKBARS||Latvian National Team|
|66||Rauls||GUTMANIS||Latvian National Team|
|67||Dan||BARNES||Team Spectra-Wiggle p/b Vitus|
|68||Freddie||SCHESKE||Team Spectra-Wiggle p/b Vitus|
|69||Ben||CHILTON||Team Spectra-Wiggle p/b Vitus|
|70||Travis||BRAMLEY||Team Spectra-Wiggle p/b Vitus|
|71||Isaac||MUNDY||Team Spectra-Wiggle p/b Vitus|
|72||Mickey||MOTTRAM||Team Spectra-Wiggle p/b Vitus|
|73||Charles||BAILEY||Philippe Wagner Cycling|
|74||Alexis||CARESMEL||Philippe Wagner Cycling|
|75||Mateo||JOT||Philippe Wagner Cycling|
|76||Aurelien||PHILIBERT||Philippe Wagner Cycling|
|77||Charlie||QUARTERMAN||Philippe Wagner Cycling|
|78||Vebjorn||RONNING||Philippe Wagner Cycling|
|103||Joseph||BECKINGSALE||Wales Racing Academy|
|104||Owain||ROBERTS||Wales Racing Academy|
|105||Will||TRUELOVE||Wales Racing Academy|
|106||Sam||BECKETT||Wales Racing Academy|
|107||Edward||MORGAN||Wales Racing Academy|
|108||Liam James||MORRIS||Wales Racing Academy|
|109||Toby||JARVIS||Team PB Performance|
|110||Jacques||COATES||Team PB Performance|
|111||George||PEDEN||Team PB Performance|
|112||James||BENTLEY||Team PB Performance|
|113||Jude||TAYLOR||Team PB Performance|
|114||Kieran||RILEY||Team PB Performance|
|127||Scott||REDDING||SCRT – Muc-Off|
|128||William||HARPER||SCRT – Muc-Off|
|129||Oliver||MAXWELL||SCRT – Muc-Off|
|130||Elliot||BARRAT||SCRT – Muc-Off|
|131||Matthew||WARHURST||SCRT – Muc-Off|
|132||Matthew||ELLIS||SCRT – Muc-Off|
|133||Daniel||YONHIN||Tarrants Skoda Cycling Munster|
|134||Conor||KISSANE||Tarrants Skoda Cycling Munster|
|135||Jordan||LUKE||Tarrants Skoda Cycling Munster|
|136||Mark||SHANAHAN||Tarrants Skoda Cycling Munster|
|137||Paul||HART||Hart Performance Coaching|
|138||Thomas||CORBET||Hart Performance Coaching|
|139||Louis||DIGANCE||Hart Performance Coaching|
|140||Samuel||THIENEL||Hart Performance Coaching|
|141||Logan||MacLEAN||Wheelbase CabTech Castelli|
|142||Matti||DOBBINS||Wheelbase CabTech Castelli|
|143||Callum||THORNLEY||Wheelbase CabTech Castelli|
|144||Tim||SHOREMAN||Wheelbase CabTech Castelli|
|145||Daniel||KAIN||Spokes Racing Team|
|146||Cameron||BROWN||Spokes Racing Team|
|147||Murray||LAWSON||Spokes Racing Team|
|148||Craig||PATERSON||Spokes Racing Team|
|149||Timothy||TORRIE||TBW 23 Stuart Hall Trainsharp|
|150||Oliver||WOOD||TBW 23 Stuart Hall Trainsharp|
|151||Kishan||BAKRANIA||TBW 23 Stuart Hall Trainsharp|
|152||Maximillian||ASHWARDEN||TBW 23 Stuart Hall Trainsharp|
|153||William||FOSTER||JRC Interflon RT|
|154||William||JEWITT||JRC Interflon RT|
|155||Marcus||COCKERIL||JRC Interflon RT|
|156||Ethan||BROWNE||JRC Interflon RT|
|157||Alex||HAINES||East Mids BC Region p/b Carter-Legrand Wealth Management|
|158||Pierre||VERNIE||East Mids BC Region p/b Carter-Legrand Wealth Management.|
|159||Alec||GREGORY||East Mids BC Region p/b Carter-Legrand Wealth Management.|
|160||Nick||COOPER||East Mids BC Region p/b Carter-Legrand Wealth Management.|
|161||Charles||PAIGE||BC North West Region|
|162||Alistair||THOMAS||BC North West Region|
|163||Benjamin||PEATFIELD||BC North West Region|
|164||Ben||GRANGER||BC North West Region|
|165||Oli||HURDLE||Stolen Goat Racing Team|
|166||Jack||FOTHERGILL||Stolen Goat Racing Team|
|167||Tom||HEAL||Stolen Goat Racing Team|
|168||Charlie||AGER||Stolen Goat Racing Team|
|169||Ben||THOMPSON||Team LDN – Brother UK|
|170||Tim||ALLEN||Team LDN – Brother UK|
|171||Vaughn||PRETORIUS||Team LDN – Brother UK|
|172||Jody||PAXMAN||Team LDN – Brother UK|
|177||David||BOLLAND||Army Cycling Union|
|178||Keiran||SIMCOX||Army Cycling Union|
|179||Sean||DODSWORTH||Army Cycling Union|
|180||Stefan||GLOYN||Army Cycling Union|
Official start: 11.00. Expected finish: 15.40
No rain in the run-up to the race means dust, rather than mud, should be the flavour of the day for the riders. The day itself is due to be dry with temperatures up to 13 degrees. A fresh breeze could open the possibility of echelons on the more exposed parts of the course, assuming the terrain itself hasn’t already blown the race apart!
How to follow
The CiCLE Classic Twitter account normally provides regular race updates. Joe Hudson will be there on the ground for us too, so keep an eye on our Instagram stories for updates and video content from him.
Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com 2019 Rutland – Melton International CiCLE Classic, Leicestershire, England – Tom Pidcock and Gabriel Cullaigh of Team Wiggins Le Col.