“… If we had the cash we could do a 1:1. That said, the hesitation I have is I’ve always wanted the race to give the opportunity to British riders to race an international event in their own country, on their own roads and not have to go abroad to face foreign competition. If you move up a tier you slice off club teams, regional teams. We would lose that element. Over the years there have been people who’ve made their breakthrough in the race, they’ve been an unknown and then place in the top ten and go on to bigger things, it’s nice to see that happen, a nice characteristic of the race…” Colin Clews, Race Directeur & Founder, Feb 2016
Walking around the start village and out on the roadside, one of the great things about the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic is seeing the democratic nature of the event; the local club teams indexing gears, loosening legs on the rollers and then crashing through the shale and mud of Rutland alongside the comparative glitterati of the domestic professional squads and European teams. A chance to dream – a kicking most likely on the cards – but an experience that no other race on the regional calendar can match: Third round of the FA Cup stuff indeed. Giants and minnows. Davids and Goliaths. There is a lot of great coverage of the race out there from all angles. This is a chance for the Nottingham lads, the local friends and familiar faces from the town in which I live, to recount their day, coloured by the local tifosi’s cameras. For an excellent account from a very capable racer faced with the brutality of this race, check out Edd ‘le Petit Rosbif’ Pickard’s piece here on the Leisure Lakes Bikes Racing site
“I was at the DS meeting last night, they did the draw for team car convoy positions; I thought they’d have all of the big squads in one bag and then all us lot in another to pull out – after the front places had been divvy’d out. But no – we were all in the same draw and I got pulled out as number five in the convoy!! I was well excited at first… but then had second thoughts when it dawned on me I’d be driving my family saloon over those dirt roads, surrounded by the likes of ONE Pro and Madison Genesis!! I think I’ll give it a miss… unless you want to drive it?!” Richard Anderson, DS Leisure Lakes Bikes Race Team
“Everything is amplified in a race like this; the build up, the speed, the crashes, the quality of riders, the noise, the following cars and horns… on the initial two laps of Rutland Water, in such a large peloton, racing at speeds averaging 48km per hour…it was impossible to see what was coming due to the wall of riders all following wheels. It was easy to get caught out” Pete Nichols, Team PB Performance
“It was the toughest day in the saddle so far! …chasing back on through the convoy of cars and taking the road both sides of the roundabout” Bradley Symonds, Team PB Performance
“That was brutal… Every single part of my body is screaming in agony! The early pace was unreal around Rutland Water – I thought to myself “move up, move up” and found that I could, I was moving through the pack quite well… then all of a sudden I find myself nosing out at the absolute front of the peloton! “Er – I really don’t want to be here!” was all I could think as the shouts poured in at me to drive on, get on with it. So I motioned that I was going to move back and eased off – within seconds the pack had swarmed past me and I was out the back – it was so quick! As soon as we hit the secteurs the gaps really went – I chased on with everything I had… it was so painful, but it was not to be…” Josh Housley, Team PB Performance
“Going in to the race the plan was to be in the races main break of the day but it soon became apparent that this was going to be a different race to the UCI ones seen on TV. I even managed a small clip off the front early on around Rutland Water. I was finding the pace comfortable and was loving bowling around some of the lanes until the Somerberg. There I was behind John Tiernan-Locke and a couple others who were struggling and had had to let wheels go whilst i bombed past them down the other side. The obligatory attempt at chasing back on followed in a small group of maybe 5-10 until my left leg cramped up on one of the bergs: That was that. In the space of 30 secs the cars were passing and it was lights out…” Ross Lamb, Godfrey Bikewear Race Team sponsored by Vision Express.
For Godfrey Bikewear’s David Ogg the race ended before it had really begun in his eyes. The broom wagon deposited him and his broken bike at the first feed whilst the race sped off towards the main course of off road secteurs. A loose line in front of him, resulting in a touch of wheels through a roundabout, saw him hit the deck and the rear mech ripped from the frame. Bloodied and disappointed… there’s always next year, young sir.
“This race is…an experience. Really highlights the importance of race craft. Positioning is key you, can be around 50th, and within seconds be at the back of the race…” Andy Brinkley, E.Mids Regional Squad/ ØVB
“It was a great opportunity to ride with some of the strongest riders in the UK. What really impressed me was the ease with which the top guys move through the peloton. My advice to anyone who fancies a go…don’t crash! It’s really hard work to chase back on and if you make it back to the bunch, your legs won’t feel great. Mine certainly didn’t!” Chris McNaughton, E.Mids Regional Squad/ ØVB (who’s day ended with a broken shifter following a crash and the ensuing battle/ limp into Owston to join the ranks of grime covered retirees and fans)
Ross Lamb put in a shift and half that day. The road closure governed time-cut and crashes claimed many as the race threaded its way through the rubble and bergs. But everytime the race came barrelling past, there was Ross – pressing on and by no means completely cut adrift from the full-blooded, tooth and nail battle amongst the strongest pro teams in the country up front. Ross was still there during the final laps of Melton Mowbray. The Commissaires finally called his number out with only a handful of km remaining of the 180. “Disappointed not to finish…” was his reaction until I pointed out he’d almost made it, despite the all-out might of the JLT-Condor squad’s onslaught.
“Yeah… I never thought about it that way…”
Roll on 2017.
Pictures courtesy of Ian Tatham, Andrew Greenstreet Photography, Leisure Lakes Bikes Race Team & PB Performance Coaching (and, no doubt, some folk I’ve missed! Get in touch for credit and a pint as payment!)