‘I’ve always had ambitions on the road’: New Zealand's Aaron Gate on his Commonwealth Games success

Kiwi rider won four Gold medals at Commonwealth Games and hopes his achievement won’t go unnoticed

Aaron Gate celebrates
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Aaron Gate of New Zealand had an incredibly successful few days at the beginning of August. 

The Kiwi rider won three track gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, before stunning the field to take the victory in the men’s road race in Warwick last weekend. 

Battling with plenty of WorldTour riders to keep himself in contention, Gate was the sole New Zealand rider in a select group of leaders for much of the day. After pulling back a late-attack by Team Wales’ Geraint Thomas, Gate spectacularly beat Fred Wright of Team England, Scotland's Finn Crockett and Daryl Impey of South Africa with a powerful final sprint to the line. 

After the race, Wright mentioned Gate’s performance and praised him as ‘the strongest rider in the field’. 

Gate told Cycling Weekly that ambitions of making a step up with road competition have been long in the making, although the Kiwi admitted that his prolific success on the track may have been a deterrent to any teams thinking of taking a punt on him. 

He said: “I’ve always had ambitions on the road, probably more so after the Rio Olympics in 2016 which was when I really started to pursue it. I’ve always enjoyed it, although I don't know whether I’ve just always been seen as a track rider by people which might put them off. 

“At least Sunday and my win in Warwick will have shown that you can do both pretty successfully.” 

After beating multiple WorldTour riders on Sunday, Gate explained that over the course of a few years, a step-up to a higher level of road competition never materialised. 

He said: “I mean, I’ve had conversations in the past, but for one reason or another, it’s never really transpired. The closest I ever got was riding with Aqua Blue for a couple of seasons before they unfortunately folded. At that point I was kind of left without a contract late in the season, which was when I moved back to Continental level.” 

Gate was also quick to point out that the small matter of a global pandemic didn’t help potential transfers. 

Gate added: “Covid definitely didn’t help and kind of delayed things. I was pretty much stuck in New Zealand for two years, there was a bit of a delay leading up to the Olympics, so it was a case of then playing catch up with Black Spoke on the road.” 


Aaron Gate and other medallists

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recent news suggests that Gate’s return to a higher level of competition may come sooner than anticipated. On 9 August, Black Spoke Pro Cycling, the team that the Kiwi rides for announced that they have applied for UCI ProTeam status for 2023. A welcome opportunity for the New Zealander. 

Reflecting on his Commonwealth Games success, Gate explained that he sees his road race medal very much as his best. 

Dissecting the action on the Warwick circuit, Gate added that he had spent time trying to slow the breakaway down to enable more Kiwi riders to get across. Once he realised nobody else was going to get over to him, he started to look towards the finish and how to overcome Team England who had the superior numbers.

He said, “three laps to go was when everything changed. I think Luke Plapp launched the first attack coming through the finish line on that rise, and that then set the tone.” He added, “I thought ok the cat and mouse is starting, as it was just me, I knew I couldn’t let any of the English guys up the road or Geraint Thomas who isn’t someone you want to give any room.”

Gate added that reaction time was key, and making sure he was alert to each of the successive moves that followed. 

The Kiwi said: “I knew in the final that I had to be patient. I’d done a lot in the three laps leading into it so I was starting to get cramps… When Thomas went I knew I’d need to rely on the English pulling him back, and when they did I ended up on Daryl’s wheel for that final kick. 

“Then I saw the 200 metres to go sign and just thought, wow this is too good to be true and just opened up. When I realised no one was able to get to me, I just thought ‘oh wow, this is unreal!’ to be honest.” 

Gate added that being chosen as the flag-bearer for New Zealand at the closing ceremony was the ideal way to round off his success. 

However, the 31-year-old concluded that despite his fellow-countryman Sam Bewley’s jokes on social media, the mullet isn’t going anywhere. 

“That’s a funny one with Bewley. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s never afraid to shout a bit of banter. The mullet is left over from Movember last year really, I always get a terrible moustache so thought a bit of a mullet would complete the look. 

“It’s getting to the point where it needs a bit of a brush out, but that’s a bit beyond me. I think it’s probably going to have to hang around a while longer.” 

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