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Motivated Gate wins Tour of Southland

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/11/2016
Aaron Gate of Cambridge celebrates winning the 2016 Tour of Southland on November 05, 2016 in Invercargill, New Zealand. © Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images Aaron Gate of Cambridge celebrates winning the 2016 Tour of Southland on November 05, 2016 in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Accomplished cyclist Aaron Gate has added a Tour of Southland title to his lengthy list of achievements.

Aucklander Gate says the disappointment of a fourth-placed finish on the track at the Rio Olympics provided the motivation to seal victory in New Zealand's most prestigious road race on Saturday.

The former Olympic team pursuit bronze medallist wanted the best possible result in his third Tour of Southland bid to help shake off the Rio setback.

After avoiding his bike in the weeks after the Olympics, he got back into training with one goal in mind.

"I stupidly told James Canny, our team manager, that I'd be up to try and have a crack at the title and he started to get quite excited and so did the other boys. To come away with this jersey is beyond words," Gate said.

"It's such an awesome race. It gets bigger and bigger each year and there are more internationals coming out to experience what it's all about."

Gate earned his tour victory with two massive breakaways on the Bluff Hill and Coronet Peak stages, describing them as two of the toughest rides of his career.

He limited his losses in the sixth stage on Saturday morning, an individual time trial, and eased home in the final 77km procession stage from Winton to Invercargill later in the day.

Alex Frame took final stage honours in a sprint but all the plaudits went to Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh rider Gate, who maintained his 2min 40sec advantage over runner-up Michael Vink.

Vink was fastest in the 13km time trial in Winton, becoming the only rider to win two stages on the six-day tour.

Dutchman Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (PowerNet) capped a strong tour in third, more than 3min behind Gate.

Four-time winner Hayden Roulston was fourth overall in what he says is his final race before retirement.

Olympic double gold medallist rower Hamish Bond finished an impressive eighth on general classification.

Southland's Nick Kergozou won the sprint classification while Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel claimed team honours and Tim Rush was crowned King of the Mountains.

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