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Oram, Crome in arm wrestle for tour title

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Kiwi James Oram retained the yellow jersey in the New Zealand Cycle Classic despite JLT Condor claiming their first stage win yesterday.

The 136km stage three ride from Masterton to Martinborough was generously flat in comparison to stages one and two, but no less dramatic.

Raced in dry, hot conditions, the race saw an early breakaway of four riders who worked well together to secure a solid lead ahead of the peloton.

The group, which included Nick Woods and Jordan Kerby (Cobra9 Interbuild Racing), Ryan Thomas (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) and James Fouche (Mobius Future Racing), took turns to drive the breakaway forward to as much as three minutes 10 seconds ahead of the peloton.

A tailwind assisted the riders as they maintained average speeds of around 45km/h for the entire race.

The stage ended with eight laps of a circuit around Martinborough’s wine village, and the peloton hauled in the leading group on the second to last lap.

The stage was finally decided with a sprint-finish down the final stretch, and renowned sprinter Alex Frame of JLT Condor made his move to seal the win in a time of two hours 47 minutes 18 seconds.

Frame is the only Kiwi on the team, which also boasts a three-time British Olympic gold medallist in Ed Clancy.

Mohammad Abd Halil (Team Sapura Cycling) of Malaysia was second, while Australian Sean Whitfield (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) was third.

Frame said his teammates were crucial to his successful final push for the win.

“I felt really good all day — my teammates knew I wanted to go for it.

“The guys rode really strong today — the team set me up, they rode for me and I am just pleased the plan worked.”

Oram, of the New Zealand National Team, continued his successful week to date by retaining the King of the Mountains jersey alongside the yellow jersey as the leader on general classification.

He retains a 10-second lead over Australian Sam Crome (IsoWhey Sports Swiss Wellness).

Oram and Crome are also battling it out in the mountains classification, leading on 18 and 14 points respectively.

There was a change of leader in the sprints classification, with Ryan Thomas (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) taking the green jersey from previous holders Luke Mudgway (New Zealand National Team) and Robert McCarty (JLT Condor).

Team Skoda’s Alex West did enough to maintain his stranglehold on the under-23 section, with a lead of 58 seconds over Logan Griffin (Oliver’s Real Food Racing).

Today’s stage four ride is a 142km journey through Wairarapa’s five main centres, starting in Masterton before heading south through Carterton, Greytown and Featherston before ending in Martinborough once again.

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