CiCLE Classic – Bunch Finish Anyone?


After looking at the course on Saturday, double winner Ian Wilkinson (Team Raleigh) says he would not be surprised if it finished in big group sprint

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

CiCLE Classic – Bunch Finish Anyone? Startsheet here

The CiCLE Classic on Sunday will have the best field of riders in a British road race since the Tour of Britain last year. Yes, no Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish, but it is a very much an international field. That said, one of the most experienced riders in the race said he still expects the finale to come down to the normal candidates that feature in other British events.


Team Raleigh, two former winners and other options as well. One of the teams expected to be in the mix for the win in CiCLE.

Around half three on Sunday we’ll know the answer to that but today was the day the teams, some anyway, went to look at the course. VeloUK also went for a look at much of it and there are some differences from last year but the riders I spoke to, say not a lot.

The race starts with a big loop around Rutland Water and that is like a sort out for the good stuff that is going to come. After the race passes through Oakham after Rutland Water, the roads get very narrow and so a selection has to be made before then before the second half of the race goes full gas over gravel roads and narrow lanes.



Somerberg was muddy today (above) and with heavy rain showers forecast for tomorrow, it will no doubt be even more muddy and so some luck, more than usual, maybe needed as I hear team cars will take diversions. More volunteers for teams will no doubt be roped in have wheels or bikes ready.

Some stretches of the roads had puddles, some big as well and they will only get bigger if the rain is heavier than today when it was almost non-existent. It is sunshine and showers so who knows how much the weather will affect the race.

Other changes we noticed were a long down hill section of road to Owston has been resurfaced, smooth tarmac but narrow and with a four inch drop off. And some barbed wire fencing not far away as well… take care lads!

A new climb, Cuckoo Hill, is added to the finale quarter of the race and its tough but it’s the finishing circuit that changes the dynamics of the race as the last sector, Sawgate, comes a lot further from the finish than previously.

One of the teams out today and the only riders I saw repeatedly ‘race’ over that last sector, was Team Raleigh. The line-up for CiCLE Classic has a double winner in Ian ‘Superman’ Wilkinson and winner in 2012, Alex Blain. They also have Yanto Barker who has featured in a few of the sprints for the victory and Mathieu Boulo, a world class cross rider who can climb.


A front break on a rider’s bike after the recce … could a clogged bike ruin a rider’s chances? Perhaps.

Add to the mix the likes of Liam Stones in good form and Evan Oliphant, stage winner at Reservoir, and there are is a lot of depth there. And that is something that is repeated in many of the other teams.

So, make no mistake, there is a lot of climbing, thousands of metres in all, but one gets the feeling that some of the pros in the race feel it could be made harder and one even pointed to a ‘sector’ leading to up to Burton Lazars (crossing Sawgate) which was gravel and uphill.

It’s that sort of thing I get the feeling some riders would like to see but I’m sure the weather, lady luck, and the strength of the teams going head to head, will see a selection made. It’s just how big that selection will be?


Post recce ride, I interviewed two former winners, both in the Raleigh team, Ian Wilkinson (above) and Alex Blain.

Double winner Ian Wilkinson was in good spirits and started by saying “They’ve only gone and bloody tarmaced it all except for a little bit at Somerberg!”

The winner in 2013 and 2009 added “I can see it being a big group finish tomorrow.” He then added with a big smile, “’m going really really well and can’t see myself being beaten tomorrow unless I puncture!”

Ian added, more seriously if that is possible from Mr Motivator in team Raleigh, “I’m really reved for it and I have number 1 on the back, no matter which way I put it up, could be a big dart board but we’ll see.”

Asked about the recce, the banter kept on coming with Superman saying “I can’t really tell you all the secrets but we’ve left a few inner tubes on the side of the road and Yanto left a lung down there and will pick that up for the finish …”


A new good luck ritual I’m told demonstrated by Matt Cronshaw (Velosure/Giordana) on Sawgate … … (he’s cleaning his hands actually after fixing a puncture LoL)

Joking aside, Ian added “it’s about seeing where it’s safe to ride especially this sector, (Sawgate). It’s not really about going at full chat, just doing a few efforts and open up the tanks. We have 200k tomorrow to sort it out. Hopefully this current bun stays out and Colin will have another great race.”


Team Raleigh’s Alex Blain seemingly full gas on Sawgate this afternoon.

We then spoke to Alex Blain, winner in 2012, and he is doubly up for it. “This is the goal” he said after he’d been across Sawgate a few times hard. “When I got injured this winter, I was focused on this week, last Sunday at TroBro and this Sunday the CiCLE Classic. We missed TroBro so everything is on for CiCLE Classic.”

“I have really good form and I feel at my best now so yes, if I do not have mechanical problems or something like that, it’s going to be alright”. Asked if the international riders will have an impact on the race, he admits “I have not had a look at the start sheet but I think you will need to be on a British team to do well here.”


Another of the favourites, Marcin Bialoblocki with Tom Bustard, pumps at the ready to help teammate Matt Cronshaw.

“You have to know who can go well and how it works in the UK so for the foreign teams, it will be hard for their tactics.”

On the course changes, he explains “Somerberg and even the one here are not so bad and I think the thing is they are too far from the finish line. If Somerberg or Sawgate was like last year, closer to the finish, it could make the difference.”

“But Somerberg is far from the finish and this one (Sawgate) is still 9k to the finish line with a lot of headwind on the way back so even if you push hard here, it is a long way to go to the finish line. The best idea for Raleigh in CiCLE is to finish like Mapei at Roubaix – 1-2-3…!”

“Of course I beat them in the sprint! We have a strong team and many options so that is the best way.”

The riders then got into the Raleigh team car and off to their chalets well away from the hustle and bustle at the race HQ.

CiCLE 2014 will be another classic. The weather, if bad, will be a godsend for many as they know many heads will drop if its like that. But they will just as much welcome a sunny race. The key though will be just how many will survive the punctures and mechanicals to make it to the finish in the lead group or will there be a ‘Niki Terpstra’ type rider who will win the battle with the headwind and their rivals and win it solo.

In Reservoir, the top teams dominated the ‘selection’ and this time there may be some interlopers from the foreign teams in that mix as well. On paper, there is little between so many riders so it’s the little things, mistakes, bad luck and so on that will see that selection for the final made.

Sunday at half three we’ll have the answer as to who is the top dog in the CiCLE Classic. Bring it on!

Startsheet here


Sean Yates drives a 4×4 over the course with his riders to see what the road is like in his first CiCLE as DS for NFTO.


Dan Fleeman leads Metaltek over the course on Saturday dogding the puddles!


The race motos take a look at the Sawgate sector


And finally, one pile of ‘muck’ to be avoided on Somerberg … lets just say it isn’t mud ;-)

CiCLE Star List

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK

Tags: , ,