Gate adds road race championship to his glittering array of cycling silverware

Road, Track & Cyclocross
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Aaron Gate added to his array of titles to claim the Cycling New Zealand Elite Road Nationals in Timaru today.


The remarkable Gate, who won on the track at the UCI Nations Cup in Adelaide last week, returned to the road, prevailing in a frantic finish to the 196km battle in miserable conditions.


The 33 year old, who is a finalist in the Halberg Awards this week, was in a select chasing group that caught the leaders on the final climb 6km from the finish. Gate produced a finish reminiscent of his winning a sprint at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, edging the bunch that included WorldTour riders Corbin Strong, Laurence Pithie, George Bennett, Reuben Thompson and time trial winner Logan Currie.


“I did everything I could. I was aggressive from the start. I knew there was going to be guys biding their time, nervous with the distance. You can’t let races like this get away from you and be over before it started,” said Gate.


“I took it up and did all I could at the start. I was in every move, except the one that looked like it had got away. But we managed with a good group of six of us to bring that back. That left a group of 10 and I had to follow the right moves and not leave the numbers of WorldTour guys get ground on us.


“I didn’t want to leave it to a sprint but it didn’t work out so had to time it to perfection in the last corner.”


There was some strong racing from the start with Bennett, Thompson, Gravel & Tar winner Josh Burnett (MitoQ) and Ryan Christensen opening a two-minute advantage.


They were closed down by the group of Pithie, Strong, Currie and Gate.


While there were some cat-and-mouse action amongst the lead group, then Luke Mudgway, Thompson and Burnett took advantage to open a telling advantage coming into the final lap before the strong chasing group caught the break on the last climb where Gate used his sprinting ability to edge out the rest.


The under-23 title was won by Southland’s Marshall Erwood (MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project) in 4:36:50, 33 seconds ahead of Hamilton’s Lucas Murphy (Quality Foods) with Auckland’s Lewis Bower third.


Earlier Canterbury’s Kirsty Watts (Black Magic) made it a double winning the women’s under-19 road race, after claiming the time trial on Thursday. She went clear to win in 2:00.46, nearly 30 seconds ahead of Counties Manukau’s Elena Worrall (MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project) and Finella Guttmann (Southland).


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