Aaron Gate produces world class performance with national record


 (Photo credit: Studio Jubb)



Aaron Gate has had a special summer on the New Zealand cycling scene and he produced something remarkable on the penultimate night of the Vantage Elite and Under 19 track nationals at Invercargill.


Defying the high-pressure atmospheric system that worked against the riders going fast, Gate produced the fastest time in history by a New Zealander for the quintessential 4000m individual pursuit with a time of 4:08.761.


Only two other men, Italian Filippo Ganna and American Ashton Lambie, have ever gone faster. Ganna’s world record, set at the 2020 world championships, is a remarkable 4:01.934.


To put it into further context, the last time Gate raced on the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome was the 2015 Oceania Games, where the New Zealand team pursuit rode a 4min 08sec qualifying ride.


“That was with a team of four, so to be able to come out and do that in the individual pursuit is a pretty cool feeling,” said the Aucklander, who backed up with a 4:08.873 in the final.


“We get pretty nit-picky with conditions and the air pressure was pretty high today, and that makes a massive difference for how the track runs. To still beat that PB and national record shows that things are tracking in the right direction for Tokyo.”


Gate, who broke the New Zealand record going 4:09.253 in Cambridge in November, has been in outstanding form this season. That includes claiming his second SBS Bank Tour of Southland in November, followed by the Vantage National Criterium title.


“The Tour of Southland last November was a big goal through lockdown and everything that went on last year, a silver lining for keeping the training going once the Olympics was postponed. Winning that, especially down to the wire, was pretty cool and I’ve just kept chipping away since then. It’s great to be back racing in Invers again, especially when you can get a win.”


Scottish Commonwealth Games medallist Mark Stewart, racing for Southland, took silver, with Gate’s Tokyo Olympic teammate Regan Gough third.


Tasman’s Shaane Fulton continued a stunning week with her third national title, adding the elite women’s keirin to the 500m time trial and sprint crowns.


“It’s been really interesting. I came into nationals with a dream, wasn’t quite sure if I could achieve it, but getting three from three is pretty special,” she said. “The legs were pretty sore this morning and I was like, ‘how am I going to get out of this? Come on legs, don’t let me down now’, but I seemed to pull through alright.”


Canterbury’s Samantha Donnelly was second in a tight finish, with Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Ellesse Andrews third.


World Points race champion Corbin Strong gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he powered away from Gate and Stewart to win the men’s elite elimination title.


Strong will be wearing the rainbow jersey when he lines up in the 30km elite men’s points race final, the final event of the 2021 programme.


Aucklander Sam Dakin had too much horsepower in the elite men’s keirin, taking gold from Tasman’s Callum Saunders, with Waikato-Bay of Plenty rider Jackson Ogle winning bronze.


Canterbury’s Amelia Sykes banked her third title of the week, adding the under 19 women’s sprint to the 500m time trial and 2000m individual pursuit. Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Sophie de Vries won silver and teammate Lily Cawood bronze.


Tasman’s Kaio Lart was dominant in the under 19 men’s sprint, with Jared Mann second and his Waikato-Bay of Plenty teammate Liam Cavanagh third.


Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Jack Carswell won the under 19 men’s 3000m individual pursuit from Canterbury’s Ryan McLeod and Mid-South Canterbury’s Johnathan Fish.


Canterbury’s Jenna Borthwick took out the under 19 women’s 7.5km scratch race, with Rhylee Akeroyd (Southland) second and Amelia Sykes (Canterbury) third.


A brave breakaway by Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Lewis Johnstone wasn’t enough to prevent his teammate Zakk Patterson from winning the under 19 men’s 20km points race, from Jaxson Whyte (Mid-South Canterbury) and Jack Carswell (Waikato-Bay of Plenty).


Tomorrow’s programme concludes with the elite team pursuits, elite and under 19 team sprints, under 19 elimination races and elite points races.


Results, Elite

Men 4000m individual pursuit: Aaron Gate (Auckland) 4.08.873, 1; Mark Stewart (Southland) 4.15.850, 2; Regan Gough (East Coast North Island) 4.14.834, 3.

Women keirin: Shaane Fulton (Tasman) 1; Samantha Donnelly (Canterbury) 2; Ellesse Andrews (Waikato BOP) 3.

Men keirin: Sam Dakin (Auckland) 1; Callum Saunders (Tasman) 2; Jackson Ogle (Waikato BOP) 3.

Men elimination: Corbin Strong (Southland) 1; Aaron Gate (Auckland) 2; Mark Stewart (Southland) 3.



Men 3000m individual pursuit: Jack Carswell (Waikato BOP) 3.13.911, 1; Ryan McLeod (Canterbury) 3.20.600 2; Jonathon Fish (Mid-South Canterbury) 3.23.410, 3.

Women sprint: Amelia Sykes (Canterbury) 1; Sophie de Vries (Waikato BOP) 2; Lily Cawood (Waikato BOP) 3.

Men sprint: Kaio Lart (Tasman) 1; Jared Mann (Waikato BOP) 2; Liam Cavanagh (Waikato BOP) 3.

Women 7.5km scratch race: Jenna Borthwick (Canterbury) 1; Rhylee Akeroyd (Southland); Amelia Sykes (Canterbury) 3.

Men 20km points race: Zakk Patterson (Waikato) 1, Jaxson Whyte (Mid-South Canterbury) 2, Jack Carswell (Waikato) 3.





Details: www.elitetracknationals.nz