Rewind: Team WIGGINS hotshot Gabz Cullaigh rides to victory at the CiCLE Classic 2018

As the country roads, farm tracks, towns and villages of Rutland and Leicestershire get ready to welcome the 15th edition of the CiCLE Classic tomorrow, we’ve decided now is as good a time as ever to take a look back at last year’s race.

Team WIGGINS’ Gabz Cullaigh took the honours in a two-man sprint finish in the centre of Melton Mowbray after a gruelling 188km.

The CiCLE Classic – which is the brainchild of Colin Clew – bills itself as Britain’s ‘Belgian classic’ race and takes riders from the pretty town of Oakham to Melton Mowbray via a series of off-road sections and hills (renamed bergs in true Belgian fashion!).

This year’s edition sees the distance of the race increased to 198.5km and taking it close to the maximum 200km allowed by the UCI for this type of one-day race.

There’s also a change of route with the two laps of Rutland Water dropped in favour of a rural ride through the picturesque villages of Burley-on-the-Hill, Ashwell and Teigh, before arriving in Wymondham, the home of Clews.

Ahead of tomorrow’s race – and an interview with Clews – enjoy a selection of pictures from last year’s thriller below.

The CiCLE Classic attracts the biggest British teams. Some have bigger resources than others…

Race director Colin Clews kept an eye on things in the start town of Oakham as riders were introduced to large crowds.

The race rolled out of Oakham in front of big crowds bathed in glorious sunshine.

The race took riders off road after two laps of Rutland Water onto the Barleyberg.

A small breakaway group were the first to hit the Barleyberg…

…but the arrival shortly after of race director Colin Clews’ car meant the main peloton wasn’t far behind.

Riders from the now-defunct JLT Condor were in control on the front of the main group.

Crowds of amateur cyclists had, in the meantime, made their way to Owston village ready for the riders to pass through twice in the hunt for sprint points and spot prizes.

Gabz Cullaigh was among the interested riders as they hit the centre of Melton Mowbray for the first time.

Big crowds saw the riders twice in the finishing circuit…

… but once was enough for some of the riders, including members of the Latvia national squad.

Members of the RAF cycling team also decided it was time to take a breather as the main contenders continued to fight it out.

Cullaigh started his sprint as soon as he hit the finishing straight…

…but the result wasn’t in doubt and Cullaigh had chance to milk the cheers and applause from the crowds.

And he looked pleased as punch with the win (after a quick clean-up and a change of jersey for the podium presentations!)

Dust and dirt from the off-road sections meant most of the riders finished with dirty faces.

The podium presentations brought with them a weird and wonderful array of prizes, including Mikey Mottram, then of Morvélo Basso RT, winning his weight in beer…

…and Cullaigh who picked up a giant Melton Mowbray pork pie for hitting the finishing circuit first.

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