James Oram ended the Tour of Malopolska strongly, with a big display of climbing on the final day to take him to 7th place overall. We took the chance to catch up with Oram as he now gets ready for a well-earned mid-season break.
RC: First of all a really strong result at the Tour of Malopolska. How happy are you with the way you personally capped off that three-day race?
James: I’m fairly happy with this result, it’s not a big one on paper, but dare I say it without sounding like a number geek, the power on the final day up the finishing climb was good, and gives me plenty of confidence for the rest of the season. The build up to the race was mainly built up of the tour series crits, with a small block the week before. So it was a fine line of holding form from Yorkshire, being fresh and healthy through the crits, then trying to simulate the tour a little bit without over doing it.
RC: Coming into the race tell us a little bit about the form that you’ve had since the Commonwealth Games.
James: I feel like from the start of the season, back in NZ with nationals and Cycle classic, and once over here in Europe, I’ve been fairly consistent in form. The Comm Games environment and build up definitely helped add a bit more to that, and I’m happy to have held or grown that condition through to Yorkshire and the past few weeks. I can’t complain with the results so far, but I’d have happily traded a bit of the consistency of top 10s for a win!
RC: Between yourself and Hayden McCormick and Karol Domagalski you’ve had a really consistent weekend in Poland, with at least one top 10 finish every stage. How did ONE Pro Cycling approach the race strategically?
James: We knew, along with CCC, we would be watched from the go. But we didn’t want this to change our mindset on the race. We had a bit of bad luck on the run in on the first stage, as you do in cycling. And in the second stage we were down to 3 riders in the front group after 30km due to the severity of the course. That aside, we still were aggressive and tried to get away where we could. Always better to give it a nudge or risk it, than finish a race thinking what if.
RC: You certainly seemed to have saved the best for last with stage 3 and it looks like it was a brutal finale to the race. Talk us through the stage, what you were up against in the course, and how it unfolded for you.
James: The course consisted of 150km with 3 shorter 4-6 minute climbs before a long valley run in to the final climb. CCC tried their usual tactics of attacking every climb, and sitting up on the downhill or flat, hurting everyone’s legs but theirs just as much, silly tactics. Karol tried to get away on the penultimate climb, however it was too late, and the flowing descent and valley road meant it was too easy for the groups to rejoin.
Once we hit the base of the final climb, the CCC and Wibatech teams rode full lead outs until the gradients started to pitch upwards of 6-7%, with CCC launching two riders with 5km to go. From here Karol and I rode tempo in hopes of keeping the gap in check, and Hayden in our wheels. However with the length of the climb, we ended up riding our own tempos after losing each other around 3km to go when the gradient increased to 10% for the remainder. No draft at that gradient! And no breeze, sweated more than being in a sauna!
RC: What are you targeting from here?
From here I’m finally putting the feet up for a mid season break, as I’ve got a couple of weeks in Girona without any travel or team commitments. This is crucial for insuring I can keep building the form for the second half of the year where we have a fair bit more UCI racing, and longer tours. Especially for us Southern Hemisphere riders, where our season kicks off in January.
First up is a couple of the British Premier Calendar events, like ‘Tour of the Res’, which are really important to the team in gaining selection in to the Tour of Britain at the end of the year. Basically it’s a points system from all these Premier events, and the top 4 teams get a start. Then after a few one days, it’s looking like our next UCI event is Kreiz Breiz Elites, where we’ve got unfinished business from last year . . .