Black Spoke takes stage win in a soggy Masterton
Bolton Equities Black Spoke stamped their mark on stage one of the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic in Wairarapa today with James Oram winning stage one in extreme weather conditions.
As the Wairarapa region experienced heavy rain overnight and during the morning thanks to the tail end of Cyclone Hale, Oram used his knowledge and experience on this circuit, which concluded with a short sharp hill climb, to play a tactical race right to the very end.
“I went early before anyone could see the finish line with the hope to catch them by surprise and hoping they would hesitate, and they did. (Ryan) Cavanagh was so close to me at the finish line there … I thought he was going to get me,” said Oram, who won the shortened stage in 2hr 47mins.
Today’s stage was supposed to be 158.1km but had to be shortened by approximately 30km due to the weather conditions – a decision made by Race Director Jorge Sandoval.
“About 60km into the race before we finished the first lap, I could see the weather conditions were deteriorating. The rain was become heavier and there was debris on the road causing punctures for many of the riders, so in the interest of their safety I spoke to the UCI Chief Commissaire and suggested we shorten the race. He agreed and we shortened it by approximately 30km … and I am confident it didn’t make any difference to the outcome of the stage.”
The race, which began in Masterton, included a slow neutralised start after one rider needed a bike change. For the first 90km the peloton raced around the rolling rural roads in the drenched countryside, many covered in debris and surface water. In fact, on one section of the road 16 riders experienced a puncture.
While there were early attacks from Black Spoke, CCache x PAR KUP and Couplands Booth Group and solo attacks from St George Continental’s Jack Aitken – they never stuck.
With about 25km to go, New Zealand National Team’s James Harvey made a solo breakaway but eventually was caught by a group of riders including Oram, Cavanagh (KINAN), Ben Oliver (MITO Q) and teammate Alex White. The five riders put their heads down and maintained a 30 second lead heading back into town, before Oram got himself to the front of the group – to take the stage win. It was the third time that a Black Spoke rider has won this stage of the NZ Cycle Classic.
When asked about the decision to make the stage shorter Oram said: “We were kind of hoping there would be another lap so we could try and split the race on the back section of the course, but it was definitely a smart call – there was a lot of rain out the back there, even visibility was poor, so it was a great call by the organisers.”
The five-day Tour continues tomorrow with stage two which will see riders head south from Masterton to the wine village of Martinborough finishing the stage with an eight-lap circuit around the village.
The 2023 NZ Cycle Classic is able to take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House, Mobile Communications Service, Wizwireless, Fagan Motors, Pedal project, Best Build Construction plus all three Wairarapa District Councils and Wellington City Council.
Stage One Winner: James Oram (Bolton Equities Black Spoke)
GC Leader: James Oram (Bolton Equities Black Spoke)
Sprint Jersey: James Oram but to be worn by Ryan Cavanagh tomorrow.
King of the Mountain Jersey: Matthew Wilson (Rush Velo)
U23 Jersey: Alexander White (NZ National team)
Most Aggressive Jersey: Jack Aitken (St George Continental)
All stages HERE
Gran Fondo HERE