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Gate to head Kiwi team

CYCLING

Multiple Commonwealth Games gold medallist and current World Track Champion Aaron Gate is the latest big name to be confirmed for next month’s UCI 2.2 Mitre 10 MEGA Masterton New Zealand Cycle Classic.

Gate, who won four gold medals, including the men’s road race at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games and is the current world champion in the track points race, will lead the crack New Zealand National team for the five-day tour to be staged in Wairarapa and Wellington.

Gate is no stranger to the tour, having previously donned the yellow jersey in 2019. But the chances of him competing in the next edition dimmed after he parted ways with the Bolton Equities Black Spoke team after the withdrawal of their major sponsor.

NZ Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval said Gate has showcased his prowess alongside his Black Spoke teammates, engaging in intense competitions across the globe against some of the world’s top riders, and securing him for the tour is a big coup.

“Aaron Gate boasts an impressive track record, having clinched four gold medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, four golds at the Oceania track championships, and a gold medal at this year’s world track championships, as well as performing consistently at my event,” Sandoval said.

“He has always shown tremendous sportsmanship to everyone and is a great ambassador for cycling. His numerous triumphs over the past few years underscore his standing as a formidable force in the sport, so I’m very excited to welcome him back to Wairarapa next month.”

Gate will be supported by Wellington’s George Jackson, a fellow former Black Spoke team member and a powerful sprinter, who won the final stage on the Tour of Wellington a few years ago.

The pair will be supported by Ryan Christensen, whose extensive racing calendar featured 29 one-day UCI races in Europe, as well as seven international tours, including the prestigious Tour of Britain. He was also runner-up in this year’s New Zealand national road championships.

Kiaan Watts, currently a member of the British pro-AT85 Pro Cycling Team, has spent the last three years racing in Europe, is a seasoned sprinter and claimed victory in stage two of this year’s Classic in Martinborough. Logan Currie and Lewis Bower will complete the lineup.

Cycling New Zealand’s Graeme Hunn is thrilled to be able to put together a competitive team so early in the year, and Cycling New Zealand was fully supportive of this important road cycling event.

“We are delighted with the group who will represent Cycling New Zealand for this event, especially with the Commonwealth Games road race gold medallist Aaron Gate and some excellent riders led by George Jackson, off the back of a breakout road season and a member of the high-performance track programme with Aaron,” Hunn said.

“Logan Currie is building to ride the national championships before he heads to Europe for a big season in UCI Pro, as is Lewis Bower, who also has a pro contract in Europe in 2024. Kiaan Watts and Ryan Christensen round out what we believe is a team capable of winning the event.”

Sandoval said that together, this diverse and skilled group of cyclists is poised to make a significant impact in the competitive cycling scene and encourages spectators to come and watch the team in action.

The entry of the New Zealand team follows that of the US track cycling team who are to use the tour as part of their buildup for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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