With Tesco stepping in to replace the East Midlands Development Agency as sponsor of the Rutland-Melton UCI International CiCLE Classic on April 17, organiser Colin Clews now has only one other major issue to settle.
He is anxiously awaiting on British Cycling to decide whether he can have his usual 180-man field, or whether they will require him to comply with new regulations limiting road race fields to 140 competitors.
When Clews first heard of the new ruling, he quickly reminded BC that his event had UCI approval for up to 200 riders. Furthermore, both the police and local authorities had endorsed the event's safety audit and were fully supportive of what over the last few years has become the country's leading single-day classic.
BC responded by agreeing that events seeking larger fields could apply to do so. They then issued a detailed and lengthy application form.
Clews promptly completed the document - which ran to several pages - and now awaits BC's decision.
Clews is delighted to have Tesco back the race because when the East Midlands agency was forced to drop its sponsorship because of government cuts, the future of this unique British event was in doubt.
"Every little helps," says Clews, borrowing Tesco's slogan.
"After so much hard work by so many people over the last six years it would have been heartbreaking
to see the event disappear."
"That Britain's biggest retailer should align itself with the CiCLE Classic. We are absolutely delighted that a company as big as Tesco has recognised the commercial value of the race not only to itself, but also to the Rutland and Melton area in general."
Clews added two of the company's stores are on the course, in Oakham and Melton Mowbray.
Tony Fletcher - Corporate Affairs manager for Tesco - commented. "We heard about the risk to this
year's event and we were impressed by both the reputation of the race internationally, and the local
support. As a result, in co-operation with the Tesco Charity Trust, we are delighted to have been
able to help secure this year's race. We hope that by doing this the organisers will now have the time to secure the longer term future of this important event"
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Keith Bingham joined the Cycling Weekly team in the summer of 1971, and retired in 2011. During his time, he covered numerous Tours de France, Milk Races and everything in-between. He was well known for his long-running 'Bikewatch' column, and played a pivotal role in fighting for the future of once at-threat cycling venues such as Hog Hill and Herne Hill Velodrome.
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