The CiCLE Classic: Britain’s Belgian Classics

CiCLE Classic 2015. Photo by Jordan Mansfield

France has Paris-Roubaix, Belgium has the Tour of Flanders, Italy has Strade-Bianche and Great Britain has the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic. It is one of the hardest one day races in Great Britain and has become internationally recognised over the years because of its challenging gravel road sections. Now the organisation is trying to grow the race to the next step by getting it televised.

The race starts in the English town of Oakham, travels all around the province and then ends in Melton Mowbray. It sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it’s far from that. Between the start and finish there are 11 gravel road sections and a multitude of climbs, some of which are even gravel, making it difficult for a pure climber or classics rider to win. To be the first over the line you have to truly be a master of all trades: climbing, descending, flat roads, gravel roads and, most importantly, tough.  This is what makes it such an appealing race for both the riders and spectators; it’s a real exhibition of cycling.

Ciaran Power, one of the few who have managed to win the race, explains just that, “What attracted me to the CiCLE was the uniqueness of the race, the toughness and difficult challenges throughout. I think it’s a must do race for anyone on top of their game.”

For the riders it’s very demanding and calls all of the toughest guys out there to try conquer it, but for the spectators it’s also an event to attend. Riders fly left, right and centre, losing control over the gravel roads and doing many technical rounds so there is lots of excitement that lasts all day. This draws everybody people out to witness the race, making it special for everyone. “It was amazing crossing the line” says Scot Gamble (the first ever winner in 2005), “the crowds were fantastic.” It’s the people that truly make an event worthwhile and this is one of the areas where the CiCLE Classic is excelling because the people love it!

26th April 2015. CiCLE Classic 2015. Photo by Jordan Mansfield

CiCLE Classic 2015. Photo by Jordan Mansfield

Organiser, Colin Clew, adds that “The very character of the CiCLE Classic is that it’s long been regarded as the most photogenic one day cycle race in Britain. It’s a tough and dramatic race, highly regarded by the pro cyclists and supporters alike.”

The organisation is now trying to grow the event to get it televised so that more people can enjoy and follow the race around the course. 2010 winner Michael Berling says that it’s “a race you have to experience to understand how hard and beautiful it is…Not enough words are adequate.” Televising the CiCLE Classic will bring people that little bit closer to the action so that they can experience the true beauty of it.

It will also be the perfect way to inspire the next generation of champions. You often hear stories of how riders watched Paris Roubaix as children and that inspired them to push for their career. “We believe a whole generation would benefit from seeing this race broadcast on TV,” Colin Clews says. “We recognise the affection people have for the race and believe more visibility of our national teams competing alongside international teams will get people inspired.”

However, the step to televising the race is nothing short of difficult. It requires a significant amount of funding so the organisation has just launched a crowdfunding site to try and get the race broadcast on ITV4 and Eurosport. The CiCLE Classic believe that they have set a reasonable goal for the fundraiser and it will get the race and community both national and international viewing.

“It would be tremendous to see the CiCLE Classic get TV coverage” says Hugh Porter, TV/Radio personality and holder of four world cycling titles. Maybe it will be what fuels the drive for a future British Roubaix champion and maybe, just maybe, it will become as big a race as Roubaix itself.

The 12th CiCLE Classic will take place on the 24th April 2016, a Sunday, with an international field of over 200 professional cyclists so keep an eye out on your TV guide next year!

Photo by Jordan Mansfield

Photo by Jordan Mansfield

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