Build-up to Paris starts now for Gate

Aaron Gate after winning the final stage of the Tour of Southland in 2020. Photo: James Jubb
Aaron Gate after winning the final stage of the Tour of Southland in 2020. Photo: James Jubb
New Zealand track rider Aaron Gate, on the eve of his return to the boards at the world championships in France, already has his eyes fixed a couple of hours south in three years.

Gate (30), who fractured his clavicle in a crash that thwarted a team pursuit medal at the Tokyo Olympics, confirmed that he will recommit to the Paris Olympics and hopes to have the “band back together to right the wrongs” in 2023.

He leads a four-strong New Zealand team at the world championships at the STAB Velodrome in Roubaix, north of Paris, joined by defending men’s points race world champion Corbin Strong, and elite women’s riders Michaela Drummond and Ally Wollaston.

With the UCI swapping the track season to the other end of the year, New Zealand, along with several countries, was unable to compete in the reconfigured qualifying events because of Covid restrictions and preparations for Tokyo.

New Zealand took up world championship spots available in the omnium, Madison and men’s points race, utilising riders already in Europe with professional road teams, as a start to the qualifying process for Paris 2024.

Gate has been riding with his Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy team in Europe after rushed shoulder surgery in Belgium that sidelined him for a month.

He had already thought about another Olympic tilt when he returned to the cycling village from his X-rays.

“I had not really thought about retiring but when I sat down with the team, I said we should all continue on to Paris. It sparked a strong desire to go back for redemption in Paris.

“I am more motivated than I have ever been for another Olympics so it will be great to do whatever is the right pathway from now until Paris to be going the best I can.”

He said the quartet were almost jumping off their road bikes and on to the track this week, and while he and Southland rider Strong competed in Tokyo, Drummond and Wollaston had been on the roads in Europe most of the year.

“We are coming in with a road-based build-up which is quite different. As we are only racing bunch races, there is not as much of the technical side of things that are so important in pursuits.

“We are capable of winning medals in both of those events [men’s Madison and omnium]. That is the goal. We are here to get on the podium.’’

 

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