JLT-Condor rider hoping that relative freshness will boost his title defence chances.

JLT-Condor’s Tom Moses has fought off illness in time for the defence of his 100 per cent record at the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic on Sunday – and he hopes a relative lack of racing in recent weeks will help his chances.

The 22-year-old soloed to beat current Madison-Genesis duo Tom Scully and Mark McNally in his sole start in the event 12 months ago.

However, he has barely competed since falling ill at March’s Tour of Normandy.

“I got ill ithere on the first stage when it was really cold and wet, so it’s taken a while to get back from that,” he said.

“I was going to ride in [the Tour of] Loire et Cher last week but John [Herety, team manager] told me to make sure I’d fully recovered. I think I’m OK now though, and a few of the other riders have been ill too, but I think it’ll work out good for the team in the long run.

“We should be a little bit fresher than some other squads coming into the next few races.”

Early forecasts for the event, Britain’s longest-standing UCI-ranked one-day race, suggested inclement weather. However, conditions are likely to be more like they were 12 months ago, when Moses tamed the race’s famed off-road sectors under overcast skies.

He added: “I think I’d prefer it to be a bit grim, to be honest. It would make the race more selective – it would settle down after the first few sectors, which makes it less stressful.

“The sectors don’t make so much different if it’s dry: it’s actually a much hillier race than it seems, which is a big factor. I don’t think people really notice that until they’ve ridden it.

“The hills kill people off more than the sectors in the dry – if it’s wet, the sectors become a lot tougher.”

If Moses cannot repeat his victory from last year on Sunday in Melton Mowbray, he could still go away with a much-coveted prize: Grainstore Brewery of Oakham is offering the first rider under the archway on the second passage of the race’s Owston loop their weight in beer.

Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic
When: Sunday April 26
Distance: 179km (112m)
Start: Market Square, Oakham,11am
Finish: Sherrard Street, Melton Mowbray, 3.35pm