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Report: Tesco Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic 2011
Event: 17th April 2011
Promoted by: Sporting Club Lifecicle
Event HQ: Oakham Market Square, Rutland
Report and Images: Andrew Kennedy - www.kennedyimages.co.uk
Rapha-Condor-Sharp's Dempster wins Rutland classic
In perfect dry and sunny conditions, with the thermometer hovering around 14c, 170 riders from across Europe set off from Oakham town centre for a very long and hard day in the saddle. A large and enthusiastic crowd had lined the start area to watch the Union Jack flag dropped by Alan Duncan MP and the huge peloton of riders rolled out of town.
Above: Spanish rider Javier Pomares (KTM Murcia) gained a gap of over a minute on the next passage through Owston.
105 miles of rolling road, farm track, and difficult terrain lay ahead for the riders of the Classic Rutland Melton International CiCLE road race. Now in it's seventh edition this race grows in stature every year. With new sponsors TESCO and CNP Sports Nutrition ensuring the immediate future for the race. Organiser Colin Clews was confident the event would live up to its high standing in the British road calendar.
Above: Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor Sharp) stays upright as a Danish rider hits the barriers in the Manor Farm sector.
The home based riders were keen to keep the foreign teams under control, and as the race passed through the village of Owston, Rob Partridge (Endura), led the whole field with Johnny McEvoy (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta), Graham Briggs and Zak Dempster (Rapha Condor Sharp), Magnus Backstedt (Team UK Youth), Yanto Barker (Pendragon Colnago LeCol) and Ian Bibby (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta) all at the front of the peloton.
Above: Pomares back in the peloton Graham Briggs, Scott Thwaites and Johnny McEvoy lead the race up the first ascent of the Somerberg.
The CiCLE Classic is a complicated race to follow for the cycling reporters, but for the spectators at the fixed points in the villages and special sectors the race is just perfect. You can sit in a village like Owston, listen to the race commentary, enjoy a drink at the pub, maybe scoff a burger and watch the spectacle of riders and race convoy pass through in a cloud of dust, sweat, blood and tears for the whole afternoon.
Above: Paris Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt (Team UK Youth) has a hard day at the back of the peloton.
A Spanish rider Javier Pomares (KTM Murcia) gained a gap of over a minute on the next passage through Owston, with Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor Sharp) leading the chase. The sector leading into the village past Manor Farm can prove tricky for the riders as it funnels into a tight left hand bend, as Briggs came into view the next rider crashed into the barriers causing panic in the peloton with Ian Bibby, Zak Dempster and Dean Downing narrowly avoiding disaster. The Rapha Condor Sharp team distinctive in black kit were ever present at the front, with the Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta boys helping to keep the race pace very fast.
Above: Organiser Colin Clewes keeps a close eye on the gentlemen of the press.
After criss-crossing the scenic Rutland lanes the race was about to tackle the dreaded Somerberg sector. With two passages up this steep, dusty farm track the riders know the race can be won or lost on the 'Somerberg'. 2007 winner Malcolm Elliot punctured on this sector last year when he was in the leading group. The last place you want to be is behind the leaders trapped in the convoy of team cars unable to breath in the choking dust, being shot by pebble missiles firing out from the track and a restricted view of the road in front.
Above: Victory and defeat etched on the faces of winner Zak Dempster and 2nd placed rider Erwin De Kerf at the finish in Melton.
On the first ascent of the Somerberg with the Spaniard Pomares safely caught, Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor Sharp) was again on the front leading the race. Scott Thwaites (Endura), Johnny McEvoy (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta) and Zak Dempster (Rapha Condor Sharp) were matching Briggs up the climb, with 40 other riders forming the leading group.
On the final run in to the finish at Melton French rider Leo Fortin (Eseg Douai) gained a lead of over a minute, which he quickly increased to 1.45. Fortin was in with a chance of a bumper pay day. If the Frenchman could maintain his lead and cross the finish line in Melton before any other riders came into the final straight in addition to the £2000 on offer for 1st place he would win a further prize of £900.
The home based riders were not about to let someone snatch victory from under their noses and the boys in black Rapha Condor Sharp, aided by Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta organised the chase. This was the British riders best chance, although they towed along a big group of continental riders who would all take their opportunities in the sprint for victory.
The barriers in Melton were lined with a great crowd enjoying the atmosphere of this special race. As the leading group of 18 riders came into view it was a black Rapha Condor Sharp jersey prominent at the front. Briggs, Craven, Downing or Dempster?, all had been battling in the front group and all carried the form to win this big race.
But it was the tall Australian Zak Dempster first into the final corner and he alone had the power and talent to wind up his sprint right to the line. Dempster took the time to deliver a perfect victory salute, whilst the pain of the race could be clearly seen on the face of 2nd placed Belgium rider Erwin De Kerf (Hand in Hand Espoirs), Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta rider Marcin Bialoblocki claimed the final podium position.
All credit to the organisers for putting on a superb bike race, and after last years victory by Danish rider Michael Berling we can again claim a home victory by our adopted Australian Brit, Zak Dempster.
1. Zak Dempster (Rapha Condor Sharp) 105 miles in 4 hours 09 seconds.
2. Erwin De Kerf (Hand in Hand Espoirs)
3. Marcin Bialoblocki (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta)
4. Johnny McEvoy (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta)
5. Jose Ramirez (KTM Murcia)
6. Tomas Okrouhlicky (AC Sparta Praha)
7. Kinch Llewelyn (GWR Team Swindon Cycles)
8. Kasper Linde (Glud & Marstrand)
9. Lasse Bochmann (Glud & Marstrand)
10. David Clarke (Endura)
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.