The UCI Rutland-Melton Circle Classic… By Jamie Sparling

The ‘Rutland,’ as it is known, is the only single day UCI pro race in the United Kingdom. It is well known within the European continental scene for its relentless hills and horribly deteriorated off road sections. It has always been a race that separates the men from the boys. 2012, however, saw the race take on a whole new face; -3C with a horrendous windchill, TORRENTIAL rain, and massive amounts of flooding. This would be a year that would separate the hardest men, from the hard men. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound too appropriate; but I am sure you get my drift.

The team woke up to horrible weather and good spirits. I swear that bad weather can often increase the amount of banter at the table, the amount of laughs in the hotel rooms, or joking around in the team cars. It is probably some sort of defense mechanism. The Team was extra chipper, but we all knew that the day’s task was going to be nothing short of epic. 170km of on/off road in sub zero rain, awesome. Every single rider in the race was bundled up in thermals, tights, rain capes, shoe covers, and even helmet covers. I rocked up in shorts, no shoe covers, simple gloves and a vest. I kept asking everyone where their purses were, but by the time the gun went off everyone had lost their sense of humor.

(Jamie second from the front here, showing himself at the front early in the day)

Team Raleigh’s goal was to ride from the front and ultimately look out for our Aussie leader Bernie.  20km in things were looking good; the field had splintered in a crosswind leaving 18 riders out front. Of which, we had three including myself, Simon, and Bernie. I went straight to the front and started chopping off. Eventually that group swelled to about 40 until we hit the 66.6km mark and passed a sign that said “welcome to hell.” Magnus Backstedt hit the front on the first off road section and took his safety off.  The field detonated and only 7 or so remained in the front. Of the 7, we had two: Myself and Bernie.

(Jamie here on the front again before the entire group shattered to pieces)

There was still over 100km to go the front group worked well together. Along the way I was able to pick up more than enough of the KOM points to take that classification. The weather was shit, and my legs were amazing. With about 40km to go, I asked our Aussie leader Bernie how his legs were and if he needed anything. He replied: “Cunt, sit the fuck on, you are the strongest one here.” I started to do less work.

(Great shot of Jamie here working in the definitive break of the day, showing his strength as one of the strongers riders in the field)

The conditions and pace continued to take their toll until there were just 5 of us left, with Alexander Blain (former cofidis rider who has ridden Roubaix on more than one occasion), off the front of us. We hit the last off road climb, and our group turned into individuals. It would be 15km of solo riding to the line. Everyone was so messed up from the weather, the effort, and the lack of food (it was so hard to eat when you had completely lost the use of your hands.).  I suffered like I had never suffered before over those last few kms; my team manager behind me screaming and honking the horn. I was going as hard as I could, with a screaming tailwind, and holding a rapid pace of about 35km/hr. That was all I needed to score my first ever Europe Tour UCI podium.

(First ever UCI podium!)

Besides the usual prize money, I won 3L of Duval which I proceeded to destroy with my roommates as soon as I got home. Despite enduring conditions I would wish upon no cyclist, that day was one I will remember forever. The next day, however, I was a mess.

Thanks for Reading!

One thought on “The UCI Rutland-Melton Circle Classic… By Jamie Sparling

  1. Thanks for writing Jamie! Great read.

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