4 Nov 2016

Shut the Gate, Aaron's in charge of Tour of Southland

4:23 pm on 4 November 2016

Olympian Aaron Gate has powered his way to the lead of the cycle Tour of Southland after a surprise move on stage five from Invercargill to Gore.

With Christchurch's Michael Vink seemingly set to cruise to victory over the final two days, it took a brazen move by a 20-strong breakaway in cold, wet conditions to shake up a race which has seen the yellow jersey change after every stage.

Gate, from Cambridge,was part of the early break which established itself 30km into the 151km stage and never looked back after Vink had gone into the stage with a lead of over two minutes.

Aaron Gate has grabbed the tour leader's yellow jersey.

Tour leader Aaron Gate. Photo: James Jubb/Envious Photography

"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, which I'm really looking forward to wearing."

Gate, a bronze medalist in the team pursuit at the London Olympics and fourth in Rio, and a world champion in the omnium in 2013, started the day 2min 19sec down on Vink, but finished with a 2min 29sec lead over Dutch rider Sjoerd Kouwenhoven.

Riders in the Tour of Southland battled cold and wet conditions today.

Riders in the Tour of Southland battled cold and wet conditions today. Photo: Envious Photography

"It's still going to be all on tomorrow, the race isn't won yet for sure. Anything can happen on that last day so I'll be doing everything I can to protect it and wear the yellow coming into Queens Park, and hopefully secure the win."

Gate has confidence his team mates will be able to help ride him to the title tomorrow.

"The boys are all excited, they can't wait to step up tomorrow - a few cups of coffee in the morning and hopefully we'll be ready to go."

Michael Vink now sits in third spot 3min 19 seconds behind Gate.

Olympic rowing gold medallist Hamish Bond finished 22nd on today's stage and has slipped to ninth overall.

Tomorrow's final day begins with a 13km individual time trial at Winton, followed by a 77km final stage from Winton to Invercargill, finishing with four laps of Queens Park.

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