Tour of Southland: NZ track cycling star Aaron Gate grabs exciting stage win to thrust him into yellow jersey
An early breakaway group in Wallacetown has helped Aaron Gate claim the fifth stage of the Tour of Southland from Invercargill to Gore.
Gate denied Australian Tineli rider Ayden Toovey his second stage win of the 2016 Tour, in a tight sprint finish on the 151km stage in wet conditions.
The NZ track cycling star, Gate claimed the yellow jersey after the leading group he was in stretched their lead over the peloton, which included contenders Michael Vink, Hayden Roulston and Michael Torckler to more than six minutes at one stage.
"It was all on from the start again today and we had lots of other boys in the team up there mixing it up," Gate said.
"Then I tried my own attack and I had my own group of about 20 guys off the front, which was quite surprising at that point because a lot of the other guys who were up on GC were missing from the group."
"We gave it a nudge and kept pushing, then all of a sudden we had a minute and then two minutes and at one stage we had 6.5 minutes and we managed to hold off for enough at the finish to put me in the yellow for tomorrow which I am really looking forward to wearing."
The leading group of 20 riders who made the break in the early stages in wet conditions, included Dutch rider Sjoerd Kouwenhoven from Powernet, Gate from Creation Signs - L & M Group Ricoh and former champion Gordon McCauley from Business South, along with previous stage winners Ayden Toovey and Sam Phipps.
They extended their lead out to 48 seconds at the 32km mark and 1:25 after 38km.
The stage leaders covered 45km in the first hour of racing as they led by 2:23.
The lead group slowly started losing riders as they increased their lead to a massive 6:40 heading into the final 40km of the stage.
The deficit was reduced by the peloton to under six minutes as the leading group of 17 riders made their way into Mataura with 23km remaining.
Six riders made a break with 10km remaining, with Gates, Kouwenhoven, Phipps, Stephen Lampier, Toovey and Ben Johnstone going for glory heading towards Gore.
Gate and Toovey broke clear of the other four riders for a thrilling final sprint in Gore.
"I was surprised, I was thankful for the guys who were helping out in the group because we did have half the guys just sitting on us," Gate said.
"I mean at least we stayed warm swapping because it was a very cold Southland day out there, but I couldn't be happier."
The SBS Tour of Southland finishes tomorrow with the final two stages, the 13km Winton Individual Time Trial and the final stage from Winton to Invercargill, with Gate in the box seat.
The endurance track cyclist has a lead of 2 minutes 29 seconds from his nearest rival, Dutch rider Kouwenhoven, with Vink, Toovey, Torckler and Roulston further back.
"It is still going to be all on tomorrow, the race isn't won yet," Gate said.
"Anything can change on that last day, so I am just going to do all I can to protect the yellow coming up to Queens Park and secure the win."
"The boys are all excited, they can't wait to step in tomorrow I hope, so a few cups of coffee in the morning and hopefully we are all ready to go."
(Stage 5 - Invercargill - Drummond - Hedgehope - Waimumu - Gore - 151km)
1. Aaron Gate (CLM) 3h24m37s; 2. Ayden Toovey (AUS) (TIN) ST; 3. Ben Johnstone (MGH) at 06s;
4. Sam Phipps (TSR) at 09s; 5. Steven Lampier (GBR) (KAP) at 10s; 6. Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (NED)
(PNL) at 39s; 7. Gordon McCauley (BSS) at 01m26s; 8. Nicholas Reddish (ORF) at 01m26s; 9. Jake
Marryatt (ACA) at 01m26s; 10. Josh Page (BSS) at 01m26s; 11. Nick Miller (BSB) at 01m26s; 12.
Alex West (TSR) at 01m26s; 13. Fraser Hewett (PMK) at 01m42s; 14. Conor Mullervy (USA) (CST) at
01m42s; 15. Jordan Gilmore (CBW) at 04m21s; 16. Liam Magennis (AUS) (TIN) at 04m21s; 17.
Hayden Roulston (PMK) at 05m22s; 18. Thery Schir (SUI) (CST) at 05m24s; 19. Ethan Batt (TSR) at
05m24s; 20. James Fouche (CLM) at 05m24s; 21. Hayden Strong (BSS) at 05m24s; 22. Hamish
Bond (VWD) at 05m24s; 23. Liam Aitcheson (CBW) at 05m24s; 24. Matt Zenovich (PNL) at 05m24s;
25. Michael Vink (MGH) at 05m24s;
1. Aaron Gate (CLM) 18h59m52s; 2. Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (NED) (PNL) at 02m29s; 3. Michael Vink
(MGH) at 03m19s; 4. Ayden Toovey (AUS) (TIN) at 04m59s; 5. Michael Torckler (VWD) at 05m35s; 6.
Hayden Roulston (PMK) at 05m41s; 7. Alex Frame (KAP) at 06m24s; 8. Steven Lampier (GBR) (KAP)
at 06m37s; 9. Hamish Bond (VWD) at 06m52s; 10. Drew Morey (AUS) (BSB) at 07m12s; 11. Ryan
Christensen (ORF) at 07m39s; 12. Matt Zenovich (PNL) at 08m23s; 13. Taylor Gunman (KAP) at
09m08s; 14. Travis McCabe (USA) (KAP) at 09m51s; 15. Alex West (TSR) at 12m38s; 16. Jake
Marryatt (ACA) at 14m01s; 17. Liam Aitcheson (CBW) at 16m03s; 18. Thery Schir (SUI) (CST) at
17m55s; 19. Ollie Jones (OPC) at 18m02s; 20. Brendan Cole (AUS) (TIN) at 19m15s; 21. Jasper
Hamelink (NED) (CST) at 19m28s; 22. Regan Gough (MGH) at 20m39s; 23. Lukas Ruegg (SUI)
(CST) at 21m00s; 24. Ben Johnstone (MGH) at 21m17s; 25. Tim Rush (MGH) at 22m43s;
1. Kia Motors - Ascot Park Hotel 57h18m57s; 2. PowerNet at 02m49s; 3. Barry Stewart Builders at
13m08s; 4. Mike Greer Homes at 16m00s; 5. Vantage Windows & Doors at 20m41s; 6. Placemakers
at 28m32s; 7. Creation Signs - L&M Group Ricoh at 29m18s; 8. Calder Stewart at 33m44s; 9. Team
Skoda Racing at 42m27s; 10. Olivers Real Food Racing at 42m40s;
1. Nick Kergozou (BSB) 40; 2. Aaron Gate (CLM) 37; 3. Liam Magennis (AUS) (TIN) 30; 4. Regan
Gough (MGH) 29; 5. James Fouche (CLM) 13; 6. Morgan Smith (BSB) 12; 7. James Williamson
(CLM) 12; 8. Michael Vink (MGH) 10; 9. Hayden Roulston (PMK) 10; 10. Sam Phipps (TSR) 9;
King of Mountains
1. Tim Rush (MGH) 26; 2. Ollie Jones (OPC) 20; 3. Aaron Gate (CLM) 17; 4. Steven Lampier (GBR)
(KAP) 16; 5. Michael Vink (MGH) 13; 6. Liam Magennis (AUS) (TIN) 11; 7. Hayden Roulston (PMK)
11; 8. Brendan Cole (AUS) (TIN) 11; 9. Sam Cox (AUS) (TIN) 11; 10. Michael Torckler (VWD) 10;