Oram retains yellow jersey
New Zealand National team’s Kiaan Watts won stage two of the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic in the wine village of Martinborough in Wairarapa today following an exciting bunch sprint.
Watts took the 127km stage in 3hrs 38mins while CCACHE Par Kup’s Matthew Rice was second and Bolton Equities Black Spoke’s Luke Mudgway third. Mudgway’s teammate James Oram finished 25th across the line, but it was enough to retain the yellow jersey, heading into tomorrow’s third stage.
“It was pretty hectic in the last kilometre but I was glad to make it through on the side,” said Watts at the finish line in the Martinborough Square.
“You really want to be in the top 10 wheels into that last corner, which is about 700m to go, and I just made it inside there and was about seventh wheel … and just ended up inside. I was coming in at some pace but those CCACHE Par KUP guys did a good lead out and I was a bit worried their lead out man was going to swing left and ride to my way, but I just managed to sneak passed them.”
Today’s stage two of the five-day tour, began from the Wairarapa town of Masterton before heading south through the rural region of Gladstone, known for its rolling hills. It wasn’t long before Brisbane based Sean Moran (Tandem Co Pro Cycling) made it known he was after the King of the Mountain jersey and took an early lead riding into the strong head wind. Soon, he was joined by Edwin Britt (CCACHE) and Ari Scott (Couplands Booths Group), and the trio gained a two-minute gap on the peloton, with Moran’s reward being the KOM jersey in his first UCI race during his first visit to New Zealand.
After Britt and Scott were absorbed back into the peloton, Moran rode solo again until he was caught by Camden Feint (Oxford Edge) and Jack Aitken (St George Continental) on the outskirts of Martinborough.
The trio then remained together as they began the first of eight laps which took them through the picturesque town square lined with spectators and around the periphery of the village’s vineyards and olive groves. At one point their lead extended to three-minutes.
But, as has been the case in this stage many times previously, the peloton wasn’t about to give up and gradually clawed the trio back in. With two laps to go everyone was back together and a bunch sprint was certain … what wasn’t certain, however, was who would be in the best position to lead it.
However, it was Watts, whose far left positioning earned him the stage win.
During the presentation of the classification jerseys Oram said the gaps between the leading trio and peloton at the start of the eight-lap circuit were constantly changing and the wind made conditions challenging. But he was stoked to retain the yellow jersey and is now planning for a tactical race tomorrow during the hilly 155km “Queen” stage.
“Normally, a solid breakaway can stay together until the finish (up Admiral Hill) which will play into our hands, and it will be really nice if we can be in that group,” said Oram.
In a special moment during prize giving, race director Jorge Sandoval welcomed Alice Baird to the podium and told the appreciative crowd that it was thanks to her, this Tour had begun 36 years ago.
“Alice was instrumental in helping me establish this NZ Cycle Classic and has always been a great supporter. It was so great to see her today, after so many years,” said Sandoval.
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 Two Winner: Kiaan Watts (New Zealand National Team)
GC Leader: James Oram (Bolton Equities Black Spoke)
Sprint Jersey: Camden Feint (Oxford Edge)
King of the Mountain Jersey: Sean Moran (Tandem Co Pro Cycling)
Most Aggressive Jersey: Jack Aitken (St George Continental)
U23 Jersey: Alexander White (NZ National team)
All stages HERE
Gran Fondo HERE