James Oram and Corbin Strong came away with a classification win each at the Tour of Korea. Oram for Mitchelton-BikeExchange took out the king of the mountains classification, while Strong for St George Continental Cycling Team was crowned best young rider.
19 year old Corbin Strong and 26 year old James Oram approached the 5-day Tour of Korea on the back of slightly different approaches to the UCI 2.1 tour. Strong came to Korea in great form, following the best young rider classification going his way in the Tour de Komano that finished 10 days prior. Strong finished up in Komano in fourth place overall with three consecutive top-10 stage finishes.
James Oram’s run up to Korea featured the Tour of Taiyuan. Oram’s first UCI event since the Tour de Langkawi back in April was a similarly strong one, with the Aucklander finishing 10th overall after opening his campaign there with a 9th place finish in the opening stage.
Gunsan played host to stage 1 of the Tour de Korea and the 63km stage quickly saw Strong put his hand up as a contender. There were no KOM points on offer, but the stage did see a bunch of 50 riders make it to the line. Raymond Kreder of Team UKYO led the field home to take the first leader’s jersey of the race, but Corbin Strong was on fire in the sprint for the line; taking sixth place across the line ahead of Neil Van Der Ploeg of Team BridgeLane.
Things got better for Strong in stage 2 from Cheonan to Danyang. Third place across the line saw the Kiwi climb into third place overall and the lead in the best young rider classification. And while James Oram didn’t light up any KOM climbs, his 15th place finish on the stage saw him climb to 11th overall.
It was in stage 3 that Oram made his move to challenge for the king of the mountains classification. Danyang to Samcheok featured just the one KOM climb, a category 3 ascent 7.3km in length and averaging 5.1%. Oram was the first to the top as part of a breakaway group that also included Hyeong Min Choe of Geumsan Insam Cello, Félix Alejandro Barón of Team Illuminate and Ka Hoo Fung of HKSI Pro Cycling Team.
The stage ended with a second successive third place finish for Strong, as Ben Perry of Israel Cycling Academy and Filippo Zaccanti of Nippo Vini Fantini Faizané took 1st and 2nd after outwitting the rest of the field by 1.25mins.
Day 4 saw Oram move from being level on points in the battle for the KOM jersey to being outright in control of the classification. His lead at the end of the day was a slender 2 points; with just the one fourth category climb featuring en route to the finish. And although Corbin Strong didn’t feature in the sprint for the line he did keep his lead in the young rider classification; 8 seconds clear of Vadim Pronskiy of Vino-Astana Mators with one stage to go.
Stage 5, at just 65km in length and starting and finishing in Seoul presented no categorised climbs for Oram to take on, leaving him with only the task of finishing the stage in order to claim the polka dot jersey. Oram did just that, and Strong finished in the peloton to secure fifth place overall, 1.05mins behind Zaccanti with Perry second, Kreder third and Youcef Reguigui of Terengganu Cycling Team fourth.
While Oram took the KOM title, Strong’s result was enough to secure the young rider classification win 14 seconds clear of Vadim Pronskiy.