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Dirt roads, sharp hills, small lanes, crashes, punctures and unpredictable racing – if there were a checklist to make for a thrilling early season event, these would be most of the required characteristics, and the recent East Midlands CiCLE Classic has them all.
In the ten years since its inception the CiCLE Classic has become one of the most coveted prizes on the UK’s domestic racing scene. The UCI 1.2 ranked race criss-crosses the undulating terrain surrounding the town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, taking the riders down rough tracks, across fields and even through a farmyard (which hosts a great barbecue each year) over the 200km of racing.
The race is a tough challenge for riders; at 200km it is one of the longest of the domestic races and with a strong field of international competitors, drawn by the lure of the UCI points, the standard of competition is perhaps the highest of the early season for British-based riders.
The Men in Black, Rapha Condor JLT, have an excellent history in the event, winning with Zak Dempster in 2011, and placing riders on the podium in two other editions – including James McCallum’s epic third place in the 2012 race, when freezing conditions meant that fewer than twenty riders managed to complete the distance.
This year’s edition of the race was won in fine style by Tom Moses of Rapha Condor JLT, who took a rare solo victory in the event, ten seconds clear of the remnants of the breakaway of which he’d been part for most of the day.
Moses had been part of a seven-man move that broke clear of a fast moving peloton on the early laps of Rutland reservoir, but a dogged chase by the GB U23 team kept the break’s advantage at less than two minutes across the twisting dirt roads and climbs that made up the second half of the race.
The constant pressure from the bunch meant that by the first ascent of the Somerberg, the break was in danger of being caught. This prompted Moses to go on the attack with last year’s second place finisher Yanto Barker for company, in a bid to pull out more time on the bunch.
The tactic worked, and while Moses and Barker were pulled back by the rest of the group going into the final 20km, the chase went out of the tired bunch, allowing Kristian House and two other riders to jump across the gap with just 10km left to race.
It was shortly after the group had been bolstered by the arrival of House that Moses made his race winning move, countering an attack from Mark McNally of the An Post team, going clear with 6km remaining.
Just as he had done in the recent Tour of Normandy, where he won a stage and wore the yellow jersey for three days, Moses put in an immense effort to power to the line alone, taking an impressive victory.
Moses’ latest win capped an already brilliant spring for the British team, who have taken stage wins in the Tour of Normandy, the Mzansi Tour in South Africa, as well as Graham Briggs’ overall victory at the Tour du Loire et Cher.