PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : ONEProCycling’s James Oram Gets PEZ’d!

ONEProCycling’s James Oram Gets PEZ’d!
Rider Interview: James Oram's career has always been on the way up with big wins as a junior and national titles at Under 23. Since turning professional with British pro continental team, ONEProCycling, he's still slotting in the victories. Ed hood caught up with the young New Zealander to hear how his career is progressing.

It’s been six years since we first spoke to Kiwi, James Oram – he’d taken silver in the 2011 Worlds Junior Time Trial Championship after winning the ‘Junior Tour de France,’ the Tour de L’Abitibi in Canada.

The following year was the first of four with Axel Merckx’s development team in the USA with whom he took his nation’s U23 road race and time trial titles, the Tour of the Southland in his native New Zealand as well as stages in the San Dimas stage race in the USA and Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal.

Last season he turned pro with British pro continental squad, One Pro; this season the team stepped down to continental level but have still been competing in some tough arenas – stage races in Poland and most recently the Kreiz Breizh a stage race in the Brittany Heartland noted for its difficulty. Oram won a stage there and we figured it was time to have another word with the 24 year-old from Palmerston North.

PEZ: Kreiz Breizh - not for the faint hearted, I saw a huge number DNF's - tell us about your stage win please.
James Oram:
Due to the nature of the roads, aggressiveness of the racing, and the usual 2.2 chaos, if you weren't on or off the front, it would be day over. The early start to stage 2B already had a few riders mentally switched off, with a lot thinking towards the afternoon stage. The early morning bunch rides back in New Zealand finally paid off, and I was good to go from the gun. The ONE lads wanted to be aggressive from the get go, and I was fortunate to be in the move that stuck, after at least an hour of us all following moves. The finishing circuit had even grippier roads, with a sharp right hand corner in to a steep kicker immediately following the finish line. I used this as my launch pad, attacking with two laps to go. At first I thought I'd gone too early, but as the time gap to the two chasers grew, and to the bunch held, I grew more and more confident. The back side of the course descended towards the finish with a short ramp with 1.5km to go. I knew if I still had a gap over the ramp, I would be able to hold on for the win. It was nervous times checking over my shoulder over the top of the ramp, but to my relief, the gap was still 15-20 seconds, and I could somewhat enjoy the run in to the finish!

PEZ: You had the jersey but lost it, what was the story behind that?
The second stage of the double day would have to be up there with one of the hardest days I've had on a bike. Starting on dead legs and dealing with a relentless course really took its toll. The course was either up or downhill, or dragging in to headwind. The ONE lads absolutely emptied themselves every lap to bring the breakaway back, with the gap down to 20 seconds over the final KOM of the circuit. Hopes of another team pulling to bring the race back for a sprint weren't possible as everyone was running on fumes. Coop Osterhaus tried to salvage the stage, but the break were too strong.

PEZ: You started the year well - third in the New Zealand Cycling Classic.
After a crash before the NZ national champs, I almost wrote my form off a little through them, and before the Cycle Classic. Racing with a national team is always interesting, but we had a great group of guys.
We all gelled well together, and were aggressive from the get go, taking the yellow on Stage Three. Unfortunately the following day, cross winds blew the race apart, and we were outplayed by the Australian Isowhey team.

PEZ: And that's after last season which was a long one - from the Nationals to Isbergues. . .
Yes, last year was my first proper racing season. It was definitely a big learning curve, physically and mentally. But now that's soaked in, it's nice to see it coming to fruition this year. And hopefully I can step back up next year to continue some progression

PEZ: A top 10 and top a 20 in Polish stage races - they wouldn't be 'soft' races. . .
I've heard the odd person say, 'oh there were only 90 starters' or 'it was only a 2.2' which in some cases can make the racing easier. Obviously they can be easier than the higher category races, but in most cases there’s been far less control, and we've been racing from Km zero.

PEZ: How was the jump for you last year from U23 to Pro Continental?
I must say I was very fortunate to have ridden with Axel for all four of my U23 years.
Racing the u23 circuit in Europe, coupled with the likes of Tour of California and Colorado had me more than prepared.

PEZ: Has One Pro going from Pro Conti to Conti made much difference to you in real terms?
Obviously I'm still very grateful that ONE is still a team, many teams in their situation would have folded, leaving riders with nothing. I definitely was looking forward to another year of racing at pro-conti; letting the body adapt to the level of racing. In some ways you could say I've lost a year, but it's also been good in making us appreciate how volatile cycling is, and what's required to be at the higher level.

PEZ: The Velothon in Wales - what was it like to race in the UK after all the continental Europe racing?
The Velothon was very similar to continental Europe racing, due to the nature of the course and teams racing. There was a bit more control than the early U.K. racing I've competed in. I have been enjoying the U.K. scene though, as the style of racing is very similar to back in NZ and Oz.

PEZ: Do you miss the US - you did a lot of racing there with Axel Merckx.
Yes, I do miss racing there, especially after just watching the Tour of Utah on TV. The cycling community in the States are much more open than Europe, with strong friendships between riders of all teams. That paired with amazing roads and hotels makes the races mentally very low stress. However, the predictable nature can get a bit monotonous.

PEZ: Do you and Axel still keep in touch?
Yes, but probably not as often as we should. I really wished we could have done Utah again this year. Catching up with the Axeon guys face to face would have been very special. I try to keep Axel up to date with any young kiwi riders coming through.

PEZ: Where are you based and why?
I've been based in Girona for the past two years now. The people, weather and roads are almost unbeatable. I'm loving the culture and lifestyle, so it's hard to complain that we have less racing this year. There's no lack of motivation to train in a place like Girona.

PEZ: Time trials were your specialty, do you still get the chance to prepare for them the way you would like?
I didn't manage to get over to Europe until mid-April this year due to visa issues which meant a few months without a TT bike. However we've only had one so far this year. I'm back on it now and should be fully prepared for the Van Midden TTT and Tour of Britain TT, all going well. Having rode the same TT position for a few years, it doesn't take long for me to feel comfortable.

PEZ: The Worlds - are they on your radar?
Yes, but I'm unsure of my chances of selection. New Zealand has some very strong riders, especially for the course in Norway.

PEZ: New Zealand cycling is very strong right now with Jack Bauer, George Bennett, Pat Bevin, Dion Smith and yourself - how has that come to pass?
I'd say the kiwi ‘can do attitude,’ but more importantly the support we've received whilst growing up in New Zealand. There’s a handful of people who have given up thousands of hours to help us pursue our goals.

PEZ: What's next?
I'm putting me gear on right now for the Ryedale GP in England! Then the next phase towards the Tour of Britain is still a little undecided. The dream would be Tour of Britain and then Worlds to finish the year off well.

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site where more of his musings on our sport can be found.


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