When IPT Academy manager Tim Elverson says “this is a race that is as beautiful as it is cruel”, he’s not describing Paris – Roubaix or another one of cycling’s famous one-day races. Instead, he’s talking about the Rutland – Melton CiCLE Classic, Britain’s only international single-day event.

The IPT Academy will make its debut in the race, which, owing to its off-road sectors, feels like a mix of Tro – Bro Léon and Paris – Tours, on Sunday (April 28).

Home rider Joe Blackmore will line up for the CiCLE Classic alongside Pier-André Cote, Luke Valenti, Pau Marti Soriano, and Israeli riders Rotem Tene and Imry Faingezicht in the notoriously unpredictable event.

Only Canadian rider Valenti has previously competed in the race (he placed 24th in last year’s wet and muddy edition). However, Elverson has managed squads in the event on six occasions and knows how merciless it can be.

“You really need three guys ready to win – I’ve had somebody soloing to victory only to have a puncture deny them three kilometers from the line, which says it all. Anything can happen.

“We’ve definitely got the riders to win it, but things happen in this race, so we need to have a bit of luck. I don’t think many teams will take the race on, which adds to the challenge.”

The 185.1-kilometer race comes complete with a course map that it tougher to decipher than any one-day race in Flanders. Along the route from Oakham to Melton Mowbray are 12 off-road sectors, including the Manorberg (passed four times, three of which are in the same direction), Somerberg (tackled three times, once in reverse), and Staple Park (which features twice in the final 25 kilometers). The CiCLE Classic retains a distinctly British feel, however, most notably with a special pork pie being among the prizes.

Elverson adds: “It’s brilliant in its complexity. I know we’ve got the right equipment and right products, and I don’t think we can plan much harder for the segments than we have.”

Photo: The Somerberg is tackled three times, twice from its harder side

Despite being new to the race, Côté has raced the past three editions of Tro-Bro Léon – including over 100 kilometers in the break in 2021 – so he believes he knows what awaits him on Sunday.

“I’ve heard quite a bit about the race – I don’t want to call it a mini Tro-Bro as that wouldn’t do it justice,” said Côte.

“I feel like I’ve been ready for this since it first got mentioned to me back at our training camp in January. I love when one-day races feature these off-road sectors: it gives them so much character, and it adds to the show. I love one-day races as it is: I love that feeling of everybody on the startline being ready to give it everything. There’s no tomorrow with one-day races, you don’t get riders who are there simply to conserve themselves for what’s ahead.

“I expect Sunday’s race to be punchy. I think there’s going to be a lot of fighting for position, especially as we approach the sectors, but with the roster we have at the race, all of our riders can contribute and has the ability to do their job to a high level.”

Man-of-the-moment Blackmore has extensive off-road experience, Tene finished 13th in last year’s Paris – Roubaix Espoirs, Marti Soriano showed promise in Le Samyn and Grand Prix Criquielion in the opening weeks of the European season, and Faingezicht – in Elverson’s words – is “really up for the race”. There’s no denying the strength of the IPT Academy squad, but the CiCLE Classic has been known to render talent and condition irrelevant.

IPT at Rutland – Melton CiCLE Classic

Riders: Joe Blackmore (GBR), Pier-André Côté (CAN), Imry Faingezicht (ISR), Pau Marti Soriano (ESP), Rotem Tene (ISR), Luke Valenti (CAN)

Sports Director: Tim Elverson

Rutland - Melton CiCLE Classic route map

Route map (C) Rutland – Melton CiCLE Classic