Gate plots to thrive on pressure

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2014

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World omnium champion Aaron Gate accepts he'll have a target on his back when he goes about defending his title in Cali this week.

The Aucklander has a heavy workload at the world championships in Colombia, first as a key component of the New Zealand team pursuit squad, followed by the gruelling six-event omnium.

''I guess there will be a little bit of that out there. I guess I'll just have to thrive on that pressure, hopefully it pushes me to ride a bit faster and I can pick up where I let the ball drop a bit last year and make the most of the form I have now,'' Gate said from Cali.

Gate believes his ability to cope with the demands of six timed and bunch rides over two days had developed since he won his world champions' rainbow jersey in Belarus.

''There have been little technical things, racing it as a group of six events, but also treating each one as an individual race. The points race, in particular, is raced quite differently in the omnium where everyone is trying to conserve as much energy as possible because there are four events following it. I think the tactics I have have learnt now will hopefully play into my hands.''

The Cali velodrome has come in for increasing criticism. Its open sides have led to questions about whether it's a fit venue for a world championships.

''It's definitely adding a new element the track here, that element being wind and possibly rain because there are no walls here. It's not like the trusty indoor velodromes we are used to where we are sheltered from all the elements,'' Gate said.

''It's a little bit disappointing because the wind will have a bearing, potentially, on times. It comes and goes during the day, so it could have an affect on how the medals play out. We'll just have to wait and see and hope  luck is on our side.''

Cali has hosted World Cup events before, but the weather seems to have caught everyone unaware.

''It sounds like the locals are a bit surprised with how the weather has been lately,'' Gate said.''It's almost monsoon-type weather, with high humidity. The forecast is for thunderstorms going forward and we just have to hope that that doesn't eventuate and we don't get anything too major which affects the racing.''

Gates programme begins today with the team pursuit, where he will be joined by Pieter Bulling, Dylan Kennett and Marc Ryan. It's a new combination which has been put together this season and one that is starting to bed in, Gate said.

''We raced together in the second round of the Mexico World Cup this year, and we've got the same combination here. We've definitely picked up the slack that we had there and worked on improving a lot of things and the track here is something where a smooth team is going to be a fast team because of how tight the corners are, and the wind.

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''I think it should play into our hands because we are a team which can cope with those things.''

The team pursuit remains one of the most cherished events at the world championships.

''It's definitely an A class field assembled here, it's going to be a tough competition with the Australians, Russians, Danish and British all looking really strong, not to mention the other European nations like Belgium and Spain,'' Gate said.

''You can see in the training sessions that everyone is struggling to adapt to the track here, and the wind feature, but raceday tends to be about getting back to basics and it could be anyone's race.''

- The Southland Times

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