Nathan Earle holds on to NZ Classic yellow

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 05:00 26/01/2013

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Australian Nathan Earle maintained his grip on the yellow jersey after stage three of the New Zealand Cycle Classic in Palmerston North yesterday.

Despite Kiwi Jason Christie winning the 161km third stage in 3hr 59 27sec, Earle finished 3min 18sec behind in the peloton and hung on to the leader's jersey.

Earle's Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers team is in the box seat for the rest of the tour, as he has a 36-second lead over the field and two of his team-mates, Ben Dyball and Pat Shaw, in the top five.

Yesterday's course was a reverse of day two, but the weather made life harder for the riders going from Palmerston North, up Pohangina Valley to Apiti and back to Palmerston North.

Earle had to work hard to make sure those close to him in the overall standings didn't get away from him but his team-mate, Campbell Flakemore, led the breakaway group, then charged out in front for a while to make sure no-one would get near Earle.

Flakemore was part of a group of 10 riders who left the peloton early and held a big lead for most of the race.

Armstrong Motor Group rider Christie took off from the breakaway with 25km to go and hung on to win the stage as the peloton unsuccessfully attempted to draw the group back in.

There were no changes in other categories, with all the respective riders keeping their jerseys.

Paul Odlin keeps the green sprint jersey, Chris Jory still leads the King of the Mountain category, Alex Frame is still the leading under-23 rider and Genesys still have a mortgage on the teams classification.

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- Manawatu Standard

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