So with the final day ahead of us James Piccoli of KIA Motors – Ascot Park Hotel is your overall leader. The man in the yellow jersey has two stages ahead of him to secure his place as just the fourth foreign winner of the race in its long and illustrious history. So we thought you might like to know a little more about him.
From the start of the race James Piccoli has been there or thereabouts in the general classification hunt, rising to prominence in the climb to Coronet Peak where only Michael Torckler could better him. That role was reversed the next day where it was the Canadian who fared best up Bluff Hill, putting just a little distance between himself and Torckler and establishing himself as GC threat number 1 to Torckler and his Blindz Direct boys, as well as the surrounding GC challengers.
That threat was cemented when the ‘gamble’ taken by KIA Motors – Ascot Park Hotel in stage 5 paid off handsomely. If Piccoli’s performance in stage 5 is anything to go by then a solid time trial today should be no trouble at all for the new yellow jersey. He leapt across the gap to the strong breakaway group – which featured Brad Evans, Logan Griffin, Michael Vink and James Fouche – and then drilled the group right to the line where his efforts in gaining time rendered him sprint-less against Evans and co; not that I think he will mind with the big prize now his with just today’s efforts remaining.
But who is James Piccoli and how is it that he’s become a pretty immediate household name in New Zealand cycling? Well it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given the Canadian’s recent history on two wheels. Piccoli has been a feature on the UCI Continental scene since 2014 and this year, with Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling the Canadian has impressed on the UCI American circuit.
The 2017 season has seen Piccoli produce a gradual crescendo of form that started with with 12th overall in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay. But arguably his biggest performance this season came in the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah where Piccoli and co went up against the strength of World Tour outfit BMC Racing as well as ProContinental outfits such as UnitedHealthcare, Caja Rural, Nippo – Vini Fantini and more. His finest hour came in stage 2 where Piccoli took a fine third place in the summit finish to Snowbasin Resort as he finished alongside Sepp Kuss of Rally Cycling and BMC Racing’s Brent Bookwalter. With 8th on the penultimate stage Piccoli would eventually finish 10th overall, before then going to the Tour of Alberta and placing 9th overall.
It should come as no surprise that Piccoli has shot into the yellow jersey and looks poised to become the fourth foreign winner of the event. Now just a 13km individual time trial and 77km final road stage stand in the gap between him and victory.