The cyclosportive scene is flourishing at a rate that leaves me gasping for air. Gone are the days when entry on the line was a possibility, with many sportives selling out months in advance of the event. There used to be weeks in between events but now you can find at least one almost every weekend across the country. There is a mixture of events, from fully matured charity rides to the major rides inspired by our Continental neighbours. This year there are at least 40 new sportives (and counting) on the calendar , which typically lasts from March to October.
Until recently we did not have any sportives that followed any of the UK’s major races. This is set to change this year with two new sportives on the calendar. The East Midlands Melton Cicle Challenge (MCC for short) and the Archer Grand Prix Sportive will change that. The MCC follows the race route itself, which was held under glorious sunshine last weekend. The Archer Sportive follows and links up major parts of the course used over the years that the race has been held. I am going to concentrate on the Melton Sportive as the Premier calendar race was won by Malcolm Elliot (Pinarello) on Sunday 29th of April, and the Sportive is less than three weeks later on May 20th.
Most events have fabled climbs in the list of ‘must conquer’ sections of the ride. What the Melton lacks in height it more than makes up for in technical difficulty. With a course reminiscent of a mixture of Paris Roubaix and Flanders, this should prove to be an excellent route. Think more flints and loose stones rather than cobbles and this should cover the unclassified sections. One great bonus to using these roads will be the lack of motorised traffic. The hills will be short and steep and the course will have a classic rouleur feel to it. Three choices of distance are on offer, a short 30km, a medium distance route of 100km and the full Monty at just under 176km. Having spoken to Colin Clews – the organiser – he has said entries will remain open a little longer. But be quick as I think this could quickly become a UK sportive classic, and it would be a shame to miss out on the first one.
Top recommendations would be to fit slightly wider tyres as this will help with traction over some of the rougher sections. Also dropping the pressure to around 6.5 -7 bar should help find a balance between comfort on the declassified roads and the regular asphalt. The Ed covered 25mm tyres back in February
so take a look at that review here
for a refresher.
I will be there on the 20th of May taking part in the medium distance event. I have got the Tour of Wessex the following weekend after all! Hope to see some of you there.