Olympic cyclist chases criterium success on the roads

By Sports Media NZ

Rio Olympian and world champion Aaron Gate wants to focus more on the road in 2017 and will chase success at this month’s Skoda Criterium National Championships in Auckland.

After completing the Tour of Southland this week, Gate is targetting the criterium championships, a title he is yet to win. 

The championships will see a significant change, with the exciting annual event around the streets of downtown Takapuna moving from the usual Friday evening to the afternoon on Sunday 13 November.
Gate said the move is a good one for the development of the sport.

“It is a fun, cool event which gets good fields, big crowds and a great atmosphere,” Gate said. “I think the move to a Sunday afternoon race is great for the event.

“It allows for more grades to race and with the Bike The Bridge event on that morning, it will be a fantastic day for cycling in Auckland.”

Gate said he was first enticed into cycling after watching Sarah Ulmer compete in the national criterium championships in Newmarket when he was a teenager.

“Moving it to a Sunday afternoon means families can come out and enjoy it, and hopefully it will excite and inspire some more young kids to take up this sport.”

Cycling New Zealand said the move in timing will enable more classes to race and will be safer with the Friday night event finishing in near-darkness.

There will be new champions with neither of last year’s winners defending their titles. Three-time winner Mike Northey, who is from the North Shore, retired earlier this year while another three-time champion, Rushlee Buchanan is still based in USA.

Gate said he would like to get his name on the trophy to start his summer racing with a mix of track and road racing on his schedule. The 2013 omnium world champion will compete in the Oceania Track Championships, but also on the road at the criterium championships and the New Zealand road championships in Napier in the New Year.

Racing begins at 3.30pm on Sunday 13 November with the Under 17 Girls (20 minutes), Under 17 Boys at 4pm (20 mins), Open B Women at 4.30pm (20 mins), Open B Men at 5pm (25 mins), elite women at 5.40 (35 min) and Elite men at 6.30pm (45 min).

​​​​​Action in last year’s Skoda Criterium National Championships in downtown Takapuna.
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