NZCT New Zealand Cycle Classic Stage 3.
Sourced from Roadcycling.co.nz
A solo win for New Zealander Jason Christie of the Armstrong Motor Group team was a day in the saddle to be proud of.
Today’s stage, a 161km ride from The Square in Palmerston North and reverse to the previous days race had just about everything a rider and spectator could appreciate about cycling.
The riders woke to a brisk morning in Palmerston North, slight S/W winds blowing and a day that had the riders tackling the third KOM of the race on the Pohangina Valley East Rd.
Overnight yellow jersey wearer Nathan Earle (Huon Salmon- Genesys Wealth Advisers) was expecting a number of early attempts from other teams in the stage and he told Roadcycling.co.nz “We are a very calm and confident team going into today”
“We have a team ready to not only defend yellow, but also attack as required” said Earle.
75 riders face the gun today and after a peaceful six km neutral section, it was on.
Drapac Pro team were first to apply the pressure as Earle earlier had told us to expect.
Straight away the pace was clocked at 60km per hour as the riders were pushed with a cross side south westerly wind. Attempts were made from various riders wanting to escape the peloton early, but The Huon/Genesys team had every move covered.
Paul Odlin (Armstrong Motor Group) was the first rider we would be watching, as the Green jersey holder for the Sprint Ace section. Another 3 points were on offer at the 30km mark.
He would not disappoint taking the uncontested sprint ahead of U23 jersey wearer Alex Frame (Trek-Vittoria) and Prologue winner Joe Cooper.
Odlin holds a 2 point lead over Frame with 3 sprint points on offer again tomorrow.
The pace was continually applied after the sprint and many splits were forming as the riders echeloned across the road.
It was clear certain guys had agendas for the day, we had Jason Christie (Armstrong Motor Group), Campbell Flakemore (Huon Genesys), Nathan Elliott ((Seight Custom Clothing) and James Williamson (NZCT NZ) applying the constant pressure until they broke the elastic band and were able to form a clear group from the peloton.
These guys were joined by another six riders as they drove the break at 60km’s per hour along Reidline East Rd, all taking turns to ensure the break would stick.
They soon had a lead of 2 minutes at the 55km mark.
With the current KOM jersey tucked safely back in the peloton, it was Luke Ockerby (Budget Forklifts) who crossed the brow of the climb first on the only KOM for the day, second was Christie ahead of Daniel Bonello (Seight Custom Clothing).
Chris Jory (GPM-Data#3) would retained the ‘Eleven’ KOM jersey for another day.
Directly after the climb, it was Flakemore who had the legs to counter attack, and immediately gained a one minute lead on the breakaway riders, at the 90km mark he was looking strong as they headed back towards Apiti.
By this time the peloton was over five minutes behind the group of escapees, and not making any significant ground.
But with 30 km’s to go for Flakemore, it seemed he had burnt all his matches and was reeled back into the break, the riders then turned left, back onto Colyton Rd and directly into the south westerly, it was here when Christie knew it was all or nothing.
Smart and tactical riding saw him solo off the front of what was now an eight man break, driving into the strong head wind the chasers could do nothing but watch as he increased his lead.
A missed turn by the chasing group had both Luke Ockerby (Budget) and Sam Rutherford (GPM Data) on the ground, but fast team support had them up and back in the group in quick time.
It was Christie who was showing his class and by the 5km to go mark he had all but secured a magnificent victory. A solo effort in such testing conditions showed us why he has the class to go all the way as a talented young kiwi cyclist.
Christie held on to win by 1.05 over the chasing riders, second went to Nathan Elliott (Seight Custom) and third to Malcolm Rudolph (Drapac).
When asked what this win meant to Christie, he replied “It means a lot to secure this win”
“I hope this is a start to what might come for me in 2013, I have a three day break after this tour then it’s straight into track training, something I haven’t done in over two years” Christie said
The Yellow Jersey remains firmly on the shoulders of Nathan Earle again after today’s stage, and when Roadcycling.co.nz spoke to him, he was clear “The team had a plan today and it work out as we had hoped, we wanted one rider up the road and my remaining team members controlled the peloton like never before
“It’s a credit to my Huon Salmon- Genesys Wealth Adviser team for the way we rode today, so tomorrow is another day in Yellow” he said.
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