It was a weary but “super stoked” smile worn by Kiwi Aaron Gate today after he won the opening stage of the 2019 Grassroots Trust New Zealand Cycle Classic, a UCI 2.2 five-stage elite men’s cycle tour being held entirely in the Waipā region.

Racing for the newly formed Irish EvoPro Racing team, who are making their debut for the 2019 season, Gate won the 132km stage in 3hr 0m 48secsonds in a sprint finish with St George Continental Cycling team’s Mathew Zenovich. Gate’s team mate, leading Dutch sprinter Wouter Wippert finished third 1min 02 secs later. Defending Tour champion Hayden McCormick (Team BridgeLane) crossed the line in seventh place overall while U23 rider Ethan Batt was the first New Zealand National team rider home.

Gate, 28, said he was super stoked to take the stage win following a hard day in the saddle. Along with Zenovich and Drapac Cannondale’s Liam Magennis, the trio formed a breakaway about 30km into the Lost Lake Loop (Cambridge – Kaipaki – Roto o rangi – Leamington). At one point, the trio extended that lead to five minutes, before Magennis dropped off the front at the 100km mark. Battling windy conditions and a chasing peleton, Gate and Zenovich worked hard together out in front to maintain their lead, however Gate gave it his all with 100m to go and took the win.

“That was a great reward for a hard fought day … we are stoked to get the stage win for a new team in a new season,” said Gate. “It was definitely hard. The wind made things challenging and it was not my intention to attack the way we did but once we formed that breakaway it was all go. At one point we had five minutes on the peleton and at another point, I thought they’d catch us but I did the calculations … and I knew we were in for a shot.”

EVO Pro manager Morgan Fox, from Athlone in Ireland, was thrilled for his riders.

“It’s fantastic! Great work to have two racers on the podium on the first day. It’s a dream start. We came here with the ambition to take stage wins and perform well on GC,” said Fox.

Gate’s high work rate was further rewarded when he picked up the BNZ Sprint Ace jersey and now wears the yellow jersey heading into Stage two tomorrow. Zenovich was also rewarded with the Three Peaks Manuka Honey King of the Mountains Jersey and the Most Aggressive Jersey.

Race director Jorge Sandoval was thrilled with how the opening stage went on the new course in a new location. After being staged in the Wairarapa for the last three years the 2019 event is being staged entirely in and around the surrounds of Waipā.

“I thought it went very well today. The support was great and it was run very efficiently. Great to see EVO Pro start their new season with such style and they’ll have a good lead heading into tomorrow, but it’s a long Tour and anything can happen,” said Sandoval.

Being held simultaneously with the Grassroots New Zealand Cycle Classic is Three Peaks RIDE New Zealand’s Cycling Festival, a week-long festival encouraging people of all ages and stages of cycling to get out and ride more regularly. These two events have been made possible thanks to the generous support from the Brian Perry Charitable Trust and the Waipā District Council.

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For more comment please contact:
Jorge Sandoval MNZM
Race Director
New Zealand Cycle Classic
Phone +64 274 464 300