CiCLE Classic Women’s Race

The CiCLE Classic is a ‘proper’ Northern European classic; full of mud and tough racing.

The CiCLE Classic is the first of British Cycling’s prestigious National Road Race series for 2024. With over 130 riders entered and a £1000 first prize – donated by Laura Kenny – competition would be fierce. And with this year being an Olympic one, riders were keen to catch the selector’s attention early. It’s not just the cash rider’s were racing for either. Traditionally the first rider to enter into the finish at Melton Mowbray is awarded a giant pork pie, why? Melton-Mowbray is renowned as the home of the pork pie!

Riders of the CiCLE Classic Women's Race were chasing a £1000 prize
Riders of the CiCLE Classic Women’s Race were chasing a £1000 prize

2024 is the second time that the women’s and junior’s races would be held a few weeks before the senior men’s race. Race Director Colin Clews felt that the previous year had been successful and will carry on with this format.

Early in the CiCLE Classic Women's Race and riders are still clean
Early in the CiCLE Classic Women’s Race and riders are still clean

A classic race in classic conditions

Being held in the spring, the CiCLE Classic is often a ‘mucky’ race! This year in particular, the UK has been subject to a very wet winter. This meant one of the off-road sectors had to be removed as it was deemed un-useable. Thankfully there was still plenty of slippery mud and cobbles to keep the Classic flavour!

CiCLE Classic Route

Both the women’s and junior’s CiCLE CLassic route covered the same 105Km route, starting and finishing in Melton Mowbray. The race emulates its continental counterparts in having a complicated route. With multiple passages of three loops, it’s easy to get lost. While the route was already extremely muddy, it was made worse after the passage of the juniors that morning and 12 hours of overnight rain. The men’s race will be held later in April, when they may get drier conditions.

Riders hit the final circuit of the CiCle Classic
Riders hit the final circuit

Third in ’21, third in ’22, first in ’24

If at first you don’t succeed, goes the old saying and for Eluned King, it proved to be appropriate. King, riding for Lifeplus-Wahoo had history with this race and today she finally took that victory. After launching an attack on the first circuit of the town as a test, King settled back into the bunch to wait for the finish. When the much depleted lead group thundered in for the final lap, King launched early. The others tried to react, but she had the power to hang on to finish with her hands in the air. Second was Eilidh Shaw of ALBA, while Alice McWilliam was third, which helped her team – Hess CYCLING TEAM – take the team prize.

Alba Development Road Team

We managed to talk to Alba after the race, here’s what they had to say:

The weather leading up to the race has been typically British and there was more before the race, how did the team feel about the conditions leading up to the day?

The move two years ago to the March date for CiCle was always going to bring weather into play, so everyone is prepared for it. We also undertake a recon ride of the main sectors the day before.

It was a big field, first National of the year. Were the team confident?

Always some nerves getting back to the big races, but also confident and well prepared.

Conditions were ‘classic’ so how did everyone handle them? Punctures or any mechanical issues?

Bike and equipment prep is critical for a race like this. We suffered no punctures and required one bike change due to a saddle issue. All credit to Handsling, Parcours and Vittoria for great equipment and our mechanic Gary for meticulous preparation.

Eilidh Shaw had a fantastic result, did she know going in to the race that she was on a good day? Was there a point where she thought, “I’ve got this”?

Eilidh (and the whole team) were in good shape. We rode to a plan that would give us options as things developed on the road. Having three riders in the select front group as the race came off the Somerberg for the last time put us in a very good place. The finish was almost delivered to perfection, but we are very happy with the result.

Last question, how was the clean up!

The clean up is still going on!!

If you would like to emulate the riders, then you can enter the CiCLE Classic Sportive. This is held a week before the men’s ace on the 28th of April.

Take a look at some of the footage from British Cycling of the race

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