5 Nov 2016

Gate wins Tour of Southland

5:55 pm on 5 November 2016

Auckland cyclist Aaron Gate has won the Tour of Southland, two minutes and 40 seconds ahead of Christchurch's Michael Vink.

Aaron Gate celebrates his Tour of Southland title, 2016.

Aaron Gate celebrates his Tour of Southland title, 2016. Photo: James Jubb/Envious Photography

Gate, a bronze medalist in the team pursuit at the London Olympics and a world omnium champion, said the excitement of contesting a third Tour of Southland had provided the motivation he needed after missing out on a medal in Rio in August.

"It's such an awesome race," said Gate. "The amount of community support that gets in behind it ... there are more internationals (riders) 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.

"That would be right up there with two of the hardest days I've had on the bike, and to do them back-to-back, I was a bit fatigued this morning," he said.

Gate (Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh) started the final 77km stage from Winton to Invercargill with a 2min 40sec lead over Vink (Mike Greer Homes), who took out the morning's 13km individual time trial in Winton.

Despite Gate's big lead there was still some drama on the final stage, with a big crash involving about 20 riders early in the stage.

The main contenders were unaffected by the crash, as they barreled towards Invercargill at 50kmh.

Alex Frame (Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel) took stage honours after three final laps of Queens Park, with Gate winning by 2min 40sec from Vink and Dutchman Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (PowerNet) capping a strong tour with a third placing, 3min 21sec in arrears.

Four-time winner Hayden Roulston (Placemakers) was fourth overall and winner of the Most Combative honours on the final stage, with fifth-placed Australian Ayden Toovey (Tineli Performance Bikewear) the leading under 23 rider.

Olympic rower Hamish Bond (Vantage Windows & Doors) finished an impressive eighth overall.