Stage 3 of Kreiz Breizh Elites was held round a brutal 10.2km circuit which riders would cover a leg sapping total of 10 times. The savage course saw the peloton tackle 2 challenging climbs per lap, which provided exciting viewing for spectators lining the ascents as rider limits were tested.
With 80km of racing in their legs from Stage 2 held just that morning, the peloton raced out of the blocks with plenty of early attacks. A group of 3 escaped but their time off the front was short lived as a group of 14 riders surged across the gap to join them. Race leader James Oram managed to bridge into that group as the rest of ONE Pro Cycling set about getting organised behind.
With Oram outnumbered in the break, the team soon decided to join him at the front and over the course of the next 20km they chipped away before the race came back together.
Shortly after the race had merged, 10 riders saw their opportunity and broke clear of what was left of the bunch. One of the riders in the group was Tom Baylis who had gone to cover a move. As proud owners of the white leaders jersey, the peloton once again looked towards ONE Pro Cycling to close down the break, which reached a maximum of 1 minute and 20 seconds.
Each and every team member committed to the chase and slowly the gap came down to 40 seconds. At this point the call was made for Baylis to return to the peloton to help in the pursuit.
As the intensity of racing increased and multiple efforts on the ascents started to take their toll, several riders reached their limit and began to drop off the back of the peloton. Oram was left with only fellow Kiwi Hayden McCormick in the closing stages and try as they might they were unable to close the gap to the 6 leaders, with the peloton crossing the finish line 31 seconds behind the race winner.
With Oram losing the jersey he currently sits in 9th place on General Classification just 22 seconds behind the race leader with only the fourth and final stage remaining tomorrow.
Speaking after the race, Head DS Matt Winston commented, “today was a real rollercoaster of emotion. From the highs of winning this morning, to the sheer disappointment felt by everyone when we were unable to keep the jersey in the afternoon. One thing I can say is I know all six members of the squad gave everything they had to try and keep the jersey within the team and I’m proud of their commitment. We go again tomorrow.”
Photo Credit: Marie Greneche