Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic: The Big Preview
Somerberg, Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic 2011
The British peloton returns to the rough roads of Rutland for the ninth edition of the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic on Sunday.
Unusually, this weekend's race comes before a round of the Premier Calendar has taken place, so it will be the first true head-to-head battle between the domestic teams.
All eyes will be on Raleigh who, with defending champion Alex Blain spearheading their attack, are on paper the team to beat. Last week they honed their off-road race craft at the difficult Tro Bro Leon race in France.
The Rutland-Melton, for many years the United Kingdom's sole UCI-ranked one-day event, is a complex and character-filled race, taking in eleven sectors of rough roads around England's smallest county.
As ever, the winning rider will need the form and tactical prowess but given the nature of the course, good fortune is also a requirement.
Last year's race was played out under torrential rain and freezing conditions. Thankfully the 2013 edition should be both drier and (slightly) warmer.
What, where and when?
Race: Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic
When: Sunday April 21
Where: START - Market Square, Oakham, 11am. KEY PLACE - Somerby Forest, Knossington 1.49pm, 2.21pm. FINISH - Sherrard Street, Melton Mowbray 3.27pm.
Six to watch out for
Alex Blain (Raleigh)
The Frenchman tamed the conditions to take a fine solo victory in last year's race. History is not on his side, however: no rider has ever won consecutive editions of the CiCLE Classic.
James McCallum (Rapha Condor JLT)
Third in last year's race. Says he likes riding in cold and wet conditions, which judging by this weekend's forecast, could be handy.
Ian Bibby (Madison-Genesis)
Bike-handler extraordinaire, and goes well on the rough stuff.
Dave Clarke (Synergy -Baku Cycling Project)
10th in 2011, 11th in 2007 and 14th in 2010, the former Node4-Giordana rider (above, right) goes consistently well in this unpredictable race.
Marcin Bialoblocki (UK Youth)
Podium finisher in 2011, and one of the (relatively) few riders who braved last year's race out until the end. UK Youth also have 2009 winner Ian Wilkinson riding for them on Sunday.
Wouter Sybrandy (IG-Sigma Sport)
If the CiCLE Classic is, as the old adage goes, one for the hard men, then Sybrandy fits the bill.
There are 11 off-road sectors along the route, varying from the rame tame Stygate Lane to the arduous Somerby Forest.
Sector 11 64km Stygate (500m) *
Sector 10 71km Newbold (1,300m) *
Sector 9 80km Owston Manor Farm (800m) ***
Sector 8 84km Stygate (500m) *
Sector 7 103km Owston Manor (800m) ***
Sector 6 117km Somerby Forest (1,800m) ****
Sector 5 120km Newbold (1,380m) *
Sector 4 129km Newbold (1,380m) *
Sector 3 140km Somerby Forest (1,800m) ****
The "Somerberg" lives up to its four-star difficulty rating.
Great Britain U23 Academy
Geofco-Ville Alger (ALG)
IG - Sigma Sport (GBR)
Node 4 -Giordana
Rapha Condor JLT
Start - Trigon (PAR)
Synergy-Baku Cycling Project (AZJ)
Team Wilbatech (POL)
B.C East Midlands Region
BC North East Region
Clay Cross RT
CMI - Trilogy Group (USA)
Deschuytter - WestKerke (BEL)
Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes
Metaltec- Knights of Old
Model- Murcia (ESP)
Spin Rotor-Primal Europe
Team Diabetes UK
UCD (Dublin) (IRL)
2012: Alexandre Blain (Fra, below)
2011: Zak Dempster (Aus)
2010: Michael Berling (Den)
2009: Ian Wilkinson (Gbr)
2008: Ciaran Power (Irl)
2007: Malcolm Elliott (Gbr)
2006: Robin Sharman (Gbr)
2005: Scott Gamble (Gbr)
Last year's top-10
1. Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura 4-36-33
2. Jamie Sparling (Can) Raleigh-GAC at 1-59
3. James McCallum (Gbr) Rapha-Condor-Sharp at 2-02
4. Tobias Erler (Aut) Arbo-Gebruder Weiss at 2-39
5. Yanto Barker (Gbr) Team UK Youth at 2-57
6. Pete Williams (Gbr) Node 4 - Giordana at 4-40
7. Wouter Sybrandy (Ned) IG-Sigma Sport at 5-30
8. Iker Camano (Spa) Endura Racing
9. Stephen Adams (Gbr) Cycle Premier-Kovert at 7-19
10. Rob Smail (Gbr) Team Wallis Cycles
King of the Hills: Jamie Sparling (Can) Raleigh-GAC
Blain wins wet and wild CiCLE Classic