International CiCLE Classic 2022 | An interview with the founder.
As the Classics season in northern Europe begins to wind down, excitement starts to build for Britain's very own spring Classic - the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic. Entering its 16th edition, the CiCLE Classic is the longest established international one-day race in Britain and also holds the record for the most competitors ever to take part in a race on British soil with around 180 riders taking to the start line each April.
That fact alone would make this race a big deal for British cycling fans, but what makes it really unique in the UK is the numerous off-road sections that litter the 183.5Km course. In comparison to previous editions, UCI have reduced the regulations around distance for this category of road race so it is shorter in distance. However, to keep the riders on their toes, a further two off road sections have been added for 2022.
Take a look at our interview with the race director and founder of the CiCLE classic, Colin Clews -
What makes this international race a one of a kind to the UK?
Those off-road sectors bring a taste of the continental classics to the Midlands, with the race setting out to mimic the style and atmosphere of racing that you'd normally associate with Flanders or Roubaix rather than Rutland. Much like Paris-Roubaix, the off-road sectors are rated on a five-star scale with the Barleyberg, Somerberg and Sawgate Lane granted the toughest rating - these sectors would be a struggle to drive along let alone ride a road bike over!
In total, the riders will take on 12 sectors, most of which are ridden on farm tracks with terrible surfaces… all of which make the race a lot more interesting. Riders will have to pick their line choices carefully in order to avoid punctures, maintain speed and stay upright on the bike.
Once again the riders must take on the Somerberg. The Somerberg is THE definitive section of the race, the toughest off-road sector which - tackled from both directions - drags the riders across rutted and potholed farm tracks before firing them uphill through a cow field and back down the other side.
Scattered in between these off-road sectors are the race's other defining feature - hills. With six key King of the Hill markers, these climbs are short, sharp, and steep affairs not dissimilar to what you might find in the Flemish Ardennes. While not defined, the route is endlessly rolling outside of these hills and when combined with the off-road sectors, creates a fiendishly tough day out for the riders.
The final key thing to keep an eye out for during the race? The prizes. Outside of the usual cash prizes, the CiCLE Classic has a couple of fantastically local prizes available. For instance, if you're the first rider through Owston village you'll pick up your weight in beer courtesy of a local brewery. If you make that breakaway stick until Melton Mowbray, the rider that leads through the town for the first lap will also win an extra special enormous pork pie.