Wednesday, July 28, 2021
HomeInterviewsJames Oram - New Kiwi U23 TT Champion Rides With Axeon for...

James Oram – New Kiwi U23 TT Champion Rides With Axeon for 2015


World Tour riders – where do they come from?

Many have come up through the US ‘development’ team run by Axel Merckx; originally sponsored by Trek then Bontrager and last year Bissell, this year he’s created the ‘Axeon’ brand which will remain irrespective of sponsor changes – with Cipollini and SRAM among the 2015 names on the jersey.

Taylor Phinney (BMC), Lawson Craddock (Giant-Alpecin), Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin), Ian Boswell (Team Sky), Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) have all been helped on their way by Merckx.

James Oram
James Oram. Photo©James Oram

On his books for 2015 is Kiwi, James Oram who we first spotted when he won the 2011 Tour de l’Abitibi in Canada – the ‘Junior Tour de France’ with Bobby Julich, Tyler Farrar and Taylor Phinney all on the roll of honour.

Later that year Oram took silver in the Junior Worlds TT and for the last three seasons has been with Merckx.

Last season he cracked the top ten in the Tour of Alberta and World U23 TT Championships.

He’s kicked off 2015 in fine style with a win in the New Zealand U23 TT Championship and followed that up with a stage win in the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic as well as a second place, a fifth place and a top ten on GC too.

We had a word with James soon after his TT win.

James Oram
James (r) at the Tour De L’Abitibi. Photo©James Oram

Congratulations James; tell us about your preparation for the NZ TT please.

“My coach Tim Gudsell (ex F des J pro, ed.) of Ventouro has me riding my TT bike twice a week, anywhere from one to three hours, so it’s not a foreign position for my body.

“We’d planned a couple of mock 40K TTs to get the body adjusted to riding past that 30-40 minute pain barrier.

“However roughly ten days before the Nationals, during my first mock test, I hit a pothole at speed and took a large tumble.

“It wasn’t until the Tuesday before the Nationals I could ride properly.

“Putting it simply, my preparation was purely recovering from the crash, and looking back on it now, that freshness may have been the key to my win ?”

Were you on the new Cipollini TT bike?

“I was still on my Bissell Team Bike of 2014, as shipping kit and bikes all around the world is a costly business!

“The Cipollini Nuke is one flash rig; I won’t be slowing down at all once I’m on it.”

James Oram
James and his Axeon teammates will also be using the Cipoliini RB800 road bikes. Photo©Chad Childers

11th in the NZ Elite Road Race Champs, were you content with that – is there no U23 Championships?

“The U23 Riders start with the Elite; however we can’t win the overall, only the U23 title.

“I was fourth in the U23 race, a result that was just as annoying as the race.

“We end up affecting the elite race, as they do ours, bit of a mess really.”

Your fourth season with Axel; under the ‘Axeon’ banner this year, any big changes other than the team name?

“Other than obvious sponsor and name changes, I feel like Axel has picked the ‘cream of the crop’ in regards to staff, and racing for the 2015 season.

“It will all be new to most of the riders on the team, but it’s really nice having the confidence of knowing what to expect.”

What does your programme look like?

“At the moment I’m missing the first training camp in the States, but I’ll head over in early March for the main camp.

“I’ve got a couple of races in NZ before I fly out.

“Once overseas, it’ll be spring in Europe then back to the states for the Tour of California.

“We’ll see from there, maybe another stint in Europe, but definitely Colorado, Alberta and Worlds.”

James Oram
James is no stranger to the top step. Photo©James Oram

You were second in the early season US Redlands stage race in 2014 – is that a priority?

“We’ll be over in Europe racing whilst Redlands is on.”

Your rode Utah and Colorado in 2014, how does your system cope with altitude?

“Each time I go back to altitude it’s that little bit easier, whether it’s mental or physical, I’m not sure.

“I feel quite comfortable at altitude now, and look forward to strong performance in both.”

You were top 10 in the Tour of Alberta, the two US races must have been good for you?

“I had good legs going in to Utah, but didn’t handle the load of the week very well, by the second to last stage I was on the back foot.

“I stayed run down through Colorado with a chest cold.

“By the time I got to Alberta, my body had finally recovered, and I had my legs of old back!

“It was nice to finally get a result, and show some form.

“Especially whilst helping my German team mate Ruben Zepunkte out – he finished third on GC with me 10th.”

What’s your ideal kind of race?

“I’d never shy away from a stage race, especially one with a TT.

“I’m looking forward to U23 Liege more than ever this year, it has special place in my heart!”

James Oram
James loves a time trial and it shows. Photo©Hervé Dancerelle

Are you happy with progress in 2014?

“I was content with my 2014 season; it was quite like riding a wave, plenty of highs and lows !

“Fortunately it ended on a high.”

Which ride are you most pleased with in 2014?

“The Tour of Alberta really made the season for me, as it was a real team success, not just personal.

“I’d relive it in a heartbeat!”

You cracked the Worlds U23 TT top 10 up from 26th – high hopes for Richmond?

“If I can continue to progress this season, the way I have been, then I shouldn’t be doubtful of a podium.

“I’ve been working closely with Cycling NZ and plan to do some mid-season recon of the course; they’ve been very supportive of my ambitions.”

Were the Worlds your last race of 2014 – how much of a winter break do you take?

“Yes, I finished my season in Ponferrada.

“Once home I had a full month off, I wouldn’t call it winter though – no snow down under!”

The Worlds TTT in Richmond must be on the Axeon ‘wish list’?

“I’m sure it’d be a nice way to finish the season.

“We’ll see how the season pans out, as I feel it would be more of a spectacle than a goal of the teams.”

2015 will be a success if…

“I really want to crack the World Tour, I’ve said it for the past two years, and I really believe it’s possible.

“As long as I’m enjoying racing my bike and progressing as a rider, I’ll call it a successful year.”

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Craig Grieve – the Man Behind the Spokes Racing Team

The press release said: “Spokes Racing Team: It was officially announced today by British Cycling that Kirkcaldy based Spokes Racing Team will host a round of the British National Junior (under 19) Road Race Series in 2015. It will be the first time in around 25 years that a Junior National race will be held in Scotland and a first for Fife."

Tim Gudsell – Ventouro Owner and former FDJ Pro

Tim Gudsell was originally a track specialist but the Kiwi landed a contract with F des J for season 2007 after a 2006 stagiaire ride gained by winning the 2006 Tour du Haut Anjou - he stayed with the French equipe for four subsequent seasons. But it’s fair to say that the French squad never saw the best of him during a career which was compromised by injury but still saw him ride two Giros and a Vuelta.

Tim James – Stacking up the top 10s in Italy

When we’re not keeping an eye on what’s happening in Northern Europe we have a peek at what’s happening down in la Bella Italia. A young man by the name of Tim James has been posting some solid results down there in the hard fought u23 classics as part of that enthusiastic and characterful man Flavio Zappi’s team.

Tino Tabak – Dreams and Demons of a Kiwi Legend

Kiwi’s in the peloton are no rarity these days; George Bennett, Shane Archbold, Paddy Bevin, Jack Bauer are all well-known figures on the World Tour but the spiritual Godfather of these men whilst as Kiwi as they come was actually born in The Netherlands; Mr. Tino Tabak is definitely old school 70’s and ‘tells it like it is.’

James Shaw – “This year has been about putting down foundations”

It was the tailend of last year when we last spoke to 2014 junior Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner, James Shaw; he’s spent this season with the Lotto-Soudal U23 team - we thought it was high time we had a word.

Stevie Williams – Not Ready to Begin Racing with Bahrain-Merida

One of the big success stories of 2018 was that of 22 year-old Welshman, Stevie Williams who returned stellar u23 results and netted himself a World Tour contract with Bahrain-Merida alongside the likes of Grand Tour ‘triple crown’ and Primavera/Lombardia winner, Vincenzo Nibali and World Time Trial Champion, Rohan Dennis.

At Random

The VV View: Scotland’s Young Turks

As the sleeping beast that is the 2020 cycling season stirs after it’s long snooze, we thought it would be good to look at how Scotland’s ‘Young Turks’ spent lock down and what their plans are for the rest of this strange year.

John Archibald – Winning and Dominating the Tour of the North and Meldons Time Trial

A 19 minute two-up ‘10’ in February, a solo 19 minute ‘10’ in March, Gifford, The Gordon Arms, The Tour of the North and now The Tour of the Meldons incorporating the Scottish National ‘Olympic’ Time Trial Title – that John Archibald (ProVision) laddie is on fire; better have a word...

Het Nieuwsblad 2010 goes to Flecha

It was a difficult phone call to make, he picked up on the tone of my voice at once; 'no, don't tell me, please!' But it was best he heard it from me; 'Flecha, he won Het Nieuwsblad well, Viktor, sorry!' 'That's it, I'm finished with Pro Cycling, for good!'

The Champ Rolls On

The Champ Rolls On... I can remember seeing the photos from the presentation of the teams at the start of the race and thinking how embarrassing it was for the Garmin team to be doing their bow down to Thor thing while he held up a warhammer. I was clearly completely wrong!

Santini announce Trek-Segafredo Fluoro Training Kit

Road safety has always been a huge focus for the Trek-Segafredo team. This very topical subject is pertinent to both pros in training and the many other regular cyclists that hit the roads every day. Santini is, as ever, extremely conscious of their needs. So, for the men’s and women’s teams, the Italian company has created a range of Trek-Segafredo fluoro training kit designed to increase cyclists’ visibility to others on the road by 300%.

Star of the Future: Luke Rowe – Already a Winner

It's not every day that a GB rider wins a Netherlands amateur classic; but that's exactly what 19 year-old Welshman Luke Rowe did recently in De 'arjaan De Schipper Trofee'-to give it the full Dutch treatment - a race won by a certain Fabian Cancellara, a few years ago.