The ancient county of Rutland is clearly pitching to be England's answer to Flanders tomorrow Sunday 25th April for the East Midlands International CiCLE Classic, a 105-mile road race now in its 6th year that takes in multiple sections of farm track and gravel designed to test riders and equipment to the limit. And there's some testing hills.
With 180 riders, the CiCLE Classic is Britain's only Union Cycliste International (UCI) international one-day road race with the atmosphere of a Belgian classic and charming country villages like Oakham and Owston to provide spectators with an ideal backdrop. A great excuse for a ride out and a pub lunch, we think, especially as the weather forecast is good.
There will be Elite riders aplenty from top pro teams like Rapha-Condor-Sharp, Sigma Sport-Specialized and, of course, Endura which boasts last year's winner Ian Wilkinson. Plus there are representatives from Denmark, Eire and the Czech Republic, a total of 32 teams.
Start is at 11am in the Market Place, Oakham with the finish on Sherrard St, Melton Mowbray at roughly 3pm. In between the route zigzags around between the villages of Owston, Somerby (renamed Somerberg in homage to Flanders) and Pickwell but for more details, the start sheet and route check here.
Now, of course, we'll be as balanced and professional as you like in our race coverage but to be fair we have an interest in the fortunes of one of the up-and-coming professional teams but good guys nonetheless Team Kuota - Road.cc who will hopefully be racing in their new kit for the first time. They've already had their first successes this year and have high hopes for the forthcoming Halfords Tour Series. Come on our boys!
Team Kuota - road.cc are tweeting live from the race, you can follow them twitter.com/Kuota_RoadCC - we'll be re-tweeting some of their tweets too.