RALEIGH’S Ian Wilkinson will be hoping his fine early season form continues when he bids to defend his CiCLE classic title this weekend.

The Barnoldswick star claimed victory in the Rutland race with Team UK Youth in 2013 and is quietly confident that he will at least be on the winning squad this year, if not collecting the honour himself again.

He said: “The form so far this season has been good and I am feeling good. I have had a few good results and the team is looking very strong.

“The CiCLE classic is a big event and one I am obviously looking to do well in but the main thing is the team is successful.”

Wilkinson is joined in a strong Raleigh squad by French pair Alexandre Blain and Matthieu Boulo along with Yanto Barker, Evan Oliphant and Mark Christian.

Wilkinson is coming into the race on the back of a strong performance at the Tour of Reservoir where he was third on the second stage.

The Barnoldswick ace also competed in Paris-Camembert where he finished 57th in a high-quality field headed by winner Bryan Coquard (Europcar).

Haribo Beacon, based in Whalley, will also be on the startline with Colne’s Olympic champion Steven Burke among their six-strong squad.

Burke is stepping up his road racing during the spring before a likely return to the track ahead of this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Burke is joined by Pete Williams, James Sampson, Jake Scott, Jake Womersley and James King in the Haribo-Beacon squad.

Kendal’s Wheelbase-Altura squad are also in action with Tom Barras heading their squad while Lancashire’s Richard Handley is in the Rapha-Condor Sharp line-up.

The race gets underway at 11am on Sunday.