- Yellow Jersey changes again -

England’s ONE Pro Cycling was finally rewarded for their hard work today when Kristian House won stage 3 of the New Zealand Cycle Classic in the Wairarapa.

House, a legend of the sport in Britain and former winner of the Tour of South Africa, overcame challenging conditions to win the 130 km stage in 3hr 02mins 43secs – a reward for his team’s consistent performance in making break-aways and driving the peloton forward over the last three days.

“It was pretty windy today. A big group got up the road and we had three riders in that so we were happy. But the New Zealand team, mainly Vink and one of his team mates did a great job at pulling it back and fair play to them,” said House at the finish line.

“Once we got the final breakaway of about 20 riders, I was just hoping to stay together for the sprint and I was confident in that group. Now we’ll see how tomorrow pans out (stage 4). We’ve got a couple of cards to play and I think it will be a good race.”

Today’s hot and windy conditions saw riders battle a strong nor-west cross wind at the crest of the King of the Mountain and this made a significant impact on the overall general classification points table. In fact, it saw the third rider in three days being presented with the yellow leader’s jersey.
Young Australian Ryan Thomas, racing for Data #3 Cisco, had a stunning day on the bike timing his sprint perfectly to finish just behind House to claim second place as well the Ricoh U23 category jersey. The points also pushed him up the overall general classification ladder to first place and see him claim the yellow leader’s jersey. Sam Crome (Avanti) came home in third place and retained his King of the Mountain jersey.

Thomas was thrilled to grab his first UCI leader’s jersey as well as enjoy a podium finish. He paid tribute to team mate Dylan Newberry, who picked up the sprint ace jersey, and his other teammates who rode aggressively taking turns at leading the peloton.

“It was actually very hard, it was a difficult race as there wasn’t much let off in the pace at all especially once the breakaway got ahead,” said Thomas. “But to get my first UCI leader’s jersey is just brilliant.”

Australian Sam Hill (Team GPM Stulz) made a series of individual break-aways during the latter part of the race – at one point he lead the chase group by 40seconds - with his efforts earning him the red Most Aggressive Rider Jersey.

First New Zealander home today was James Oram riding for ONE Pro while Michael Vink and Brad Evans, the latter who won yesterday’s Stage 2, were the first two riders home for the New Zealand National Team – down 1m 41secs on House.

Today’s challenging conditions also saw 19 riders fail to finish (DNF) meaning that only 67 riders will take to the start line tomorrow. That included Jack Sowry, the only local rider in the Tour.

Stage 4 of the New Zealand Cycle Classic continues tomorrow and features a 152.2km route which incorporates the highest point on the race - Admiral Hill which is 495 above sea level. This is also the longest stage and riders are expected to reach top speeds of 80-90 km/ph on the Te Wharau downhill. Riders will leave at 10am from the Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park in a neutralised start and are expected to finish atop Admiral Hill at 2.15pm.