Feature: CiCLE Classic Parcour

June 27 will be a massive day for road racing in the UK as the CiCLE Classic returns after 666 days with the Junior Men’s and Women’s Editions of this unique event – VeloUK joined organiser Colin Clews for a look at the parcour

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Feature: CiCLE Classic Parcour

June 27 will be a massive day for road racing in the UK as the CiCLE Classic returns after 666 days with the Junior Men’s and the Women’s Editions of this unique event in the British racing calendar. This week, VeloUK joined organiser Colin Clews for a look at the parcour

Colin leading the men’s race out of Oakham in 2019 – on Wednesday, VeloUK went out on the roads again with Colin to look at the parcour for the women and junior men.

The CiCLE Classic dates back to 2005 when Scott Gamble was the first winner and each year after, the event has got more and more popular and now there are three Editions in a normal year. A UCI Men’s version and the Junior Men’s and Women’s Editions.

Since 2006, I have been visiting the race and got used to the mind boggling course the race uses for the Men’s edition. The Junior Men’s and Women’s Editions though are much shorter. The last edition of the Men’s was close to 200km although this will be shortened to 180km due to new UCI rule changes for UCI 1.2 events. The Junior Men’s and Women’s Editions are 105km and so I was intrigued to see how much of the usual course is used in these shorter versions.

The answer is a LOT! After almost three hours in the car with Colin going over the race’s roads for the first time in two years for me, I was impressed with how much of the roads the race packs into these versions being held on June 27.

Like the men’s race pictured, the Women and Juniors do Somerberg twice

So whilst the Women’s and Junior race don’t have the distance the UCI men’s race has, the shorter version packs one hell of a wallop! No messing around in this race as the climbing begins as the race comes out of the neutralised zone and then it’s one berg after another with the riders also doing plenty of off road racing too with the lengthy Somerberg (2.2km) twice, the race changing Sawgate (500m) on the final lap of the finishing circuit and three times over the Manor Farm Feeds sector (700m) at Owston.

Over the course of the recce, I wasn’t seeing any ‘rest’ for the riders as we drove the roads that will challenge the riders aplenty on June 27. With all the off road sectors, luck plays a big part and helping to wing that luck in the favour of the riders will be plenty of service from rider’s own teams in the convoy and by the side of the roads as well as help from the Neutral Service cars sponsored by Brother UK. They will be providing help for the near 300 riders that are expected to compete in the two races on that day in June.

Add to those 300 riders, the 120 plus volunteers on the day making the race happen shows just how huge this event will be.

The races will start and finish in Melton Mowbray, the Junior men in the morning, the Women in the afternoon. The race convoy will roll out of Melton Mowbray, hopefully with plenty of vocal support from the people watching, and be neutralised for several kilometres until it reaches the village of Burton Lazars.

The last edition in 2019 won by Emily Nelson

The riders won’t have a lot of time on the wide roads of the A606 as they will take a left onto the Whissendine road heading towards Whissendine before going right on Stapleford road and heading towards Pickwell. This involves some long drags going upwards and sees the riders crossing the A606 and continuing towards Pickwell via Leesthorpe.

These sections of road are not that technical but it won’t be long before the roads hit the bergs as they pass through Somerby heading to Owston where the roads are not just ‘bergy’ but also left and right and riders out of position could be made to pay a high price for not focusing on their positioning in what will be a big peloton. We’re still in the first 10km at this point and a field of 140 riders on a narrow road will be a long long string of riders and gaps will open with all the hills.

The Bergs approaching Owston are hard enough to do some damage if the riders race them and I expect a lot of the action will be at the rear of the peloton as riders are popped out the back of it.

Arriving at Owston with only around 10km under the wheels, the races go up the very narrow Cox’s Lane, past the village hall (on your right) and then a right and left out of the village towards Marefield.

This is historic for the race as the course will be going in the opposite direction down a narrow road with some steep descents and ascents and just before the riders get to Burrough on the Hill, there is a Queen of the Hills/King of the Hills sprint; one of three in the race. After this QoH/KoH sprint point at the top of the climb, the race turns right and into Burrough on the Hill.

The riders are now well into a very ‘bergy’ section of the course with plenty of opportunity for riders to slip away or if a team wants to, reduce the size of the peloton by putting some numbers on the front and putting the hammer down. Most of the roads on this section are single car width so positioning will be Key with capital K.

Narrow, lumpy roads where you can get out of sight quickly, make for the perfect attacking race

After the pub (Stag & Hounds on the right of the riders) in Burrough on the Hill, the race turns right down Newbold Lane, again, still going in the opposite direction the men’s race would normally take. As mentioned, the bergs are seriously challenging or at least they will be if the riders race them full gas.

Riders head into the Newbold feed zone going downhill (take care riders) this time and into Owston, turning left into Green lane (gravel, care needed) and then right onto the Manor Farm Feeds sector (21km approx done) taking the riders into the centre of Owston. When we drove this sector, the lane was seriously over grown with the usual flowering greenery on the sides of the lane and this is just one of the things that Colin’s crew will be out taking care of before the riders race the sector.

It was like driving through a jungle LoL!

From the Manor Farm Feeds sector, the riders race up to Middle Street (yep, a decent little berg), left into Middle Street, then right at the end (opposite the village hall) and down Coxes Lane, left into Long Lane and head towards Somerby where there will be some sections of usual width roads around Somerby to move up.

The race travels through Somerby and onto Pickwell where it turns right towards ‘Stygate’ (very narrow) where the cross winds when the course was recced were strong… perfect for a team to do some damage! At the end of Stygate, the race turns right onto the A606 and then right again into Cold Overton Lane towards Cold Overton for the second of the QoH/KoH.

Above: Manor Farm Feeds Sector, Owston. This is done three times, once in the opposite direction to that pictured

After the KoM, at the next intersection (Cold Overton Road leading to Somerby road), the race turns right towards Somerby but before you get to Somerby, the race turns left onto Knossington road and towards Somerberg for the first time. This off road sector is a little worse than before but as always, Colin’s crew and supporters will take a look at fixing some of the worst of the hazards.

Somerberg (Bruce’s lane) is not just some flat piece of gravel. It goes up quite steeply at one point with the gravel track having patches of tarmac. It then flattens out for the long straight (slightly downhill) run to the end of the 2.2km sector.

The up and down road between Somerby and Owston raced in both directions

At the end of Somerberg, the race turns right onto Knossington road and heads towards Owston. At the cross roads, the race goes left onto Long lane then right into Cox’s Lane past the village hall and then hard right (descending) onto the Manor Farm Feeds sector.

At the end of that sector, the riders go left then right onto the road to Newbold Manor (feed zone).

Hope I haven’t lost you yet! Let’s just say the race goes in and out of Owston five times from different directions!

After the climb up Newbold, through the feed zone, there is yet more climbing to be done as the race heads to Burrough on the Hill, Twyford Rd, before the riders veer off on the downhill (down Marefield Lane, take care) to take the roads to Owston.

Into Owston, the village which is an integral part of the CiCLE Classic, the riders will turn right and sprint up the hill (for a generous Prime), turn left into Middle street, right into Cox’s lane, left into Long Lane, Left into Green Lane and then right onto the Newbold Manor road to do a loop up to Burrough-on-the-Hill again, before descending back to Owston.

The feedzone at Newbold, the first time, the riders ride down this road and then back up it several times….

As the riders enter Owston for the fifth time, they go left then right and back onto the Manor Farm Feeds sector for the third time before climbing up to Middle Lane where its left, then right into Cox’s lane, left into Long Lane and then right onto the Knossington road at the cross roads.

A few km later, the riders turn left off Knossington road and head down Somerberg for the second time in the opposite direction they did the first time. Out of Somerberg, they turn left towards Somerby, right towards Pickwell, right onto Stygate and then at the end of Stygate, left onto the A606 for a short distance before going right onto the road to Whissendine (Stapleford road).

I did say there were a lot of left and rights didn’t I!

At the T intersection with Whissendine Road, the race turns left and then right and onto Cuckoo Hill (road) and the third and final QoH/KoH. The race continues left onto Stapleford road with the Stapleford Park Country Hotel on the rider’s right as they head to the main road where they turn left towards Melton Mowbray.

Note: A 10 minute cut off for dropped riders at Cuckoo Hill

Stygate … narrow and no hedges to hide behind so if there are crosswinds, watch out! Sadly, no rapeseed crops to add colour to the images like this one LoL

Riders will cross the line once in Melton Mowbray and then do a 15km loop of the finishing circuit, taking in the final sector, Sawgate, at Burton Lazars, before completing the circuit and sprinting for the win in Melton Mowbray.

Having been to this race for well over a decade, and just having been around the course in the order the riders will take race it, I can picture it in my head as I follow the directions but I also know for most of the riders, that these roads will be completely unknown and visualising the course is, as I remember it to be, very difficult indeed.

Hopefully this description will help because as much as you know the roads, it’s about knowing the order in which you travel down specific parts of the course. Colin provided me with the marshals in Owston’s ‘road book’ for each of the five times the race comes through there which you can see below.

The course map … break it down into smaller sections (as per colour) and it is possible to follow the route although I have to say, the drive around the course as per the description here did help hugely!

Still to come are the start sheets/race manuals and I am fully expecting the line-up for both races to not just be the biggest line ups for a race so far in 2021 but also the best quality. The racing should be real quality as well and the winners be very worthy ones just those who have already been on the podium during the short time these two races have been held.

Thanks to Colin for his help in looking at the course… stay tuned for the start sheets in the next week or so.

Maps for the marshals in Owston show just how ‘complicated’ it can be to follow the race with it coming into the village different ways each lap. Here are the maps which may help those in Owston …

 

 



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