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Oram employs Classic strategy

Bolton Equities Black Spoke’s James Oram won his first Trust House New Zealand Cycle Classic with a measured ride in yesterday’s final stage, a criterium around the streets of Wellington.

Oram led going into the final lap after an hour’s racing on the 1.6km circuit around Lambton Quay, leading out teammate Luke Mudgway, who was gunning for the Sprint Ace title. In the end, German Lucas Castersen riding for Thai team Roojai Online Insurance took line honours, with Mudgway second and Mathew Rice [CCACHE PAR KUP] third.

Oram had held the yellow jersey since the first day of the tour, and he was full of praise for his Black Spoke team, New Zealand’s only Pro Tour team, who won three of the five stages in a dominant performance.

“The boys have been faultless all week,” Oram said.

“Being the only Pro Continental team here, we knew we had to do it, and it’s great to be able to pull it off. Three UCI stage wins and an overall win in January is perfect and that’s the momentum we want to keep going for the rest of the season.”

The 29-year-old was also thrilled to win in front of some home support

“The crowd was amazing. I’ve got some family down here who came out to watch, and it makes it pretty special. A lot of times we’re racing overseas in Europe and we don’t really know anyone but having your family out calling your name is pretty radical.”

Yesterday’s final stage was the first to be won by an international rider, a race Carstensen targeted when he first saw the race programme.

“The Kiwis and Aussies have the quick circuits, but we have them as well in Germany, and I grew up on sprint racing, so I know how it works, and I’m very happy to win here,” said Carstensen, who was rapt with his first outing since joining the Thailand-based team two weeks ago.

“I think we can be very happy with second team GC [general classification] and the goal was to win a stage here and we achieved it on the last stage, so we’re very happy.”

On Saturday, Mudgway won stage four around the scenic Miramar Peninsular, while New Zealand National team’s Lewis Bower and Kiaan Watts finished second and third, respectively. Carstensen and CCACHE PAR KUP’s Matthew Rice finished out the top five, and Oram finished eighth.

Mudgway praised his teammates for their selfless riding to get him into the perfect position to take out the stage

“We had Logan [Currie] ride the front all day, which kept all the riders in check, and which meant I could sit on. We had a couple of riders get sick, so we were down to four, and he did basically three riders’ jobs today,” Mudgway said.

“Then, coming into the finish, James and Josh did a textbook lead out; I hardly had to sprint really; I just came around the last corner and went as hard as I could and put my hands up!”

Mudgway said he had been focused on Saturday’s stage after doing extra work to help teammate Josh Burnett take stage three, which finished with the demanding climb up Admiral Hill in Wairarapa on Friday.

“I love coming back to New Zealand and racing here. My family and friends come to watch, which is special, and I only get to race in NZ a couple of times a year and then I am off to Europe for the rest of it. And then to see the crowd on the hill was amazing.

“It felt like the National Championship; it was heaps of fun today. I really loved the circuit, and I hope we can come back here again next year.”

Black Spoke’s dominance was confirmed by winning the team’s classification, while Mudgway took out the Sprint Ace title. The King of the Mountain went to Matthew Wilson [Rush Velo], and Oxford Edge’s Camden Feint won the under-23 classification.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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