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Surprise move earns Gate tour lead

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/11/2016

Olympian Aaron Gate has powered into the Tour of Southland lead after a surprise move on the fifth stage from Invercargill to Gore.

Christchurch's Michael Vink looked set to cruise to victory with two days of the week-long race remaining, but a brazen move by a 20-strong breakaway in cold, wet conditions shook everything up.

Gate was part of the early break which established itself 30km into the 151km stage and never looked back.

While Vink led by more than two minutes at the start of the stage, the breakaway continued to gain time through Drummond, Winton and Springhills.

"I looked around and we had a group of 20 guys and it was surprising at that point because a lot of guys that were up on GC were missing from that group," Gate said.

"We gave it a nudge and kept pushing it, and then all of a sudden we had a minute, then two minutes and at one stage we had six and a half minutes.

"We managed to hold on enough at the end to put me into yellow."

A bronze medallist in the team pursuit at the London Olympics and fourth in Rio, Gate started the day two minutes 19 seconds down on Vink, but finished with a 2:29 lead over Dutch rider Sjoerd Kouwenhoven.

"It's still going to be all on tomorrow, the race isn't won yet for sure," Gate said.

"Anything can happen on that last day, so I'll be doing everything I can to protect it."

Saturday's final day begins with a 13km individual time trial at Winton, followed by a 77km final stage from Winton to Invercargill.

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