JLT Condor end successful NZ Tour with third overall

Stevie Williams third overall after five tough stages in New Zealand
The five man team recorded a stage win, handful of days in the yellow jersey, several top three placings as well as third overall for young rider Stevie Williams at the UCI New Zealand Cycle Classic. 

John Herety drew several positives from the riders’ performance at the UCI 2.2 stage race, “The racing was tough here and team showed themselves to be one of the strongest by working together to bring home results. There are only five man squads which makes it tricky for one team to control the racing. After Chris took victory and the yellow jersey on day 1, we had a few big days working to keep yellow and finish well.

When the sprint stages were out the way, the climbers teams came to the fore and JLT Condor p/b Mavic had two cards to play, in the form of Stevie Williams and Steve Lampier.

Both riders made sure they were in the decisive move on stage three. Then when it came to the summit finish on stage four Williams and Lampier rode hard in intensive heat to ensure there were up there. I am pleased with how the racing went, there were strong teams at the race, the Australian riders are in the middle of their racing season but we were able to make our mark. We were pushed all the way on stage 5 but we defended Williams 3rd. It was a successful campaign for us.” explained Herety.

How the Queen Stage unfolded
The final summit ascent of Admiral Hill proved to be a fitting arena for a general classification showdown on a decisive day of the tour.

Earlier on in the stage, a group of five escaped and built a four minute lead on the gruelling hilly course. A crash in the breakaway saw the group reduced to a trio. In the final 20km the trio was caught by a 20 rider group of favourites, including JLT Condor’s Lampier and Williams. It was at the base of the 10km ascent that Australian rider Ben O’Connor (Avanti IsoWhey Sports) saw his chance to go for solo victory and hit out on the attack.

A group of favourites hits the lower slopes of the climb

“Leading into the final climb ONE Pro had a big full on team time trial, they were going full gas at the base and had us a little worried I thought if James Oram can still go after this I’ll be impressed,” said O’Connor.
On the climb the group shattered leaving O’Connor in the lead by 30 seconds chased by Stevie Williams and O’Connor’s team mate Mark O’Brien who marshalled Williams up the climb. O’Brien pipped young Williams to the line, while JLT Condor’s Steve Lampier finished the stage 6th at 47 seconds.
The solid performance from the black and yellow clad riders put Williams in third on the general classification and Lampier in fifth.

O’Brien and Williams on Admiral Hill

JLT Condor face tough battles on final day
The final stage of the tour took riders through rolling countryside north east of Masterton. Valuable general classification points were up for grabs on the stage and JLT Condor knew they would have a tough day ahead defending Williams third overall.
As soon as the flag dropped, newly formed British Pro Continental Squad launched attack after attack in an attempt raise their 4th placed James Oram onto the podium. They were joined by Kenyan Riders DownUnder, Oliver’s Foods and Data#3 Cisco Racing who were all vying to force a race winning move.
Eventually an attack stuck and riders built up a two minute lead. It looked as though and it wasn’t clear if the group would stick all the way to the line. Hard chasing from JLT Condor neutralised the threat down in the closing kilometres. A swift counter attack came from former JLT Condor rider, Mike Cuming. Cuming’s timing was perfect and he stayed ahead to take a solo win 7 seconds ahead of the chasing peloton. Stevie Williams finished safely in the pack in 11th, with Steve Lampier in 13th. Ensuring they would retain their high overall placings.

Stage 4 Results
1. Ben O’Connor (U23) – Avanti Whey Sport
2. Mark O’Brien -Avanti – at 31 seconds
3. Stevie Williams (U23) – JLT Condor p/b Mavic – 34 seconds
4. James Oram – One Pro Cycling – 40 seconds
5. Michael Vink – New Zealand National Team – 44 seconds
6. Steve Lampier – JLT Condor p/b Mavic – 47 seconds

Stage 5 Results
1 Michael Cuming SOM 2:51:04
2 Jason Christie KRD 00:07
3 Jesse Kerrison (U23) SOM
4 Logan Griffin (U23) ORF 00:09
5 Ryan Thomas (U23) DSR
6 Frank Sutton (U23) TSR
7 Scott THomas DSR
8 James Oram OPC
9 Nicholas Katsonis (U23) SOM
10 Saxon Irvine DSR
11 Stephen Williams (U23) JLT Condor p/b Mavic
12 Callum Gordan (U23) TSR
13 Steve Lampier JLT Condor p/b Mavic
14 Adam Bull  (U23) SOM
15 Ben O’Connor  (U23) ART

Overall Results after 5 stages
1. Ben O’Connor (U23) – Avanti Whey Sport
2. Mark O’Brien -Avanti – at 31 seconds
3. Stevie Williams (U23) – JLT Condor p/b Mavic – 34 seconds
4. James Oram – One Pro Cycling – 40 seconds
5. Steve Lampier – JLT Condor p/b Mavic – 47 seconds
6. Michael Torckler – 1 min 1 seconds
7. Michael Vink – NZL – 2 min 25 seconds

Starting the tour with a bang, Lawless sprints to 1st and Alex take 2nd 
Chris Lawles in the U23 leaders jersey on stage 2
Williams in the bunch on stage 3
The team post-race watch Williams on the podium

JLT Condor head back to Oz for more high quality racing
The team return to their base in Bendigo, Australia, to build up for the next race, Cadel Evans Ocean Road Race (31st January). The one day UCI 1.HC race is set along tourist hot spot and idyllic Great Ocean Road and sees a host of world tour stars in attendance including sprinter Mark Cavendish.

The team will stay in Melbourne, and few days later race the Jayco Herald Sun Tour (3rd-7th February), Australia’s oldest stage race. The five day event begins with an evening prologue in downtown Melbourne on Wednesday 3rd February. Reigning Tour de France champion, Chris Froome will make his first appearance of the season on the start line.

JLT Condor’s new signing Alex Frame will stay in New Zealand to build up for the World Track Championships in London in March.

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