NFTO rider Steele Von Hoff took victory in the 11th edition of the International CiCLE Classic between Rutland and Melton, beating One Pro Cycling rider Chris Opie in a thrilling sprint finish.
The Australian just pipped his rival to the line, although Opie’s team did well to get him back up to the front of the race after he suffered a late puncture.
Harry Tanfield of JLT Condor was next over the line in third with Kiwi rider Aaron Gate (AnPost Chain Reaction) fourth and Ian Wilkinson (Raleigh GAC) fifth.
It was Von Hoff’s second victory of the season, following on from his success in the 33rd Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race back in March.
The victory came as something as a shock to Von Hoff – he thought he was sprinting for fifth place as he approached the finish and didn’t realise he’d won until getting off his bike.
Going into the finishing circuit at Melton, four riders had managed to peel away but they were reeled back in before the end – something that Van Hoff was not aware of.
In the opening stages of the race, Von Hoff was last on the road, his chain ring having exploded early on.
Speaking after the race, Steele said: “That was a surprise win, I actually thought there were four away up the road. I think there was a group that went earlier which included Ian Bibby, who had done a lot of work all race, and I thought his legs had gone and had come back to the group.
“When we crested the 3KM to go, I thought they were a long way off and we had no chance to catch them, so I honestly thought we were sprinting for fifth. I actually asked Chris Opie how many guys he thought had gone away and he said none.
“The plan today was just to ride aggressively, be towards the front of the race and hit the sectors hard, it’s like a classic, everyone rode hard to get to the sectors on the front, I've ridden classics before so I know how to position myself for the rough ground.
“The team worked so well today, anything that went, they chased down. I took a risk today running high pressures and I think I had a little bit of luck on my side because I didn't puncture.”
1 Steele Von Hoff (NFTO) 4:16.15
2 Chris Opie (One Pro Cycling)
3 Harry Tanfield (JLT Condor)
4 Aaron Gate (AnPost Chain Reaction)
5 Ian Wilkinson (Raleigh GAC) all at same finish