2/11/2020 - Former winner Aaron Gate and his strong Black Spoke team have laid down an early challenge on the opening stage of the 2020 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
Gate executed the winning move late in the 151km Mataura Licensing Trust Stage 1 from Invercargill to Gore, beating the peloton home in a bunch sprint to take stage honours and the yellow jersey.
Starting the day in chilly conditions, a moderate breeze made for a less demanding start to what is expected to be an ultra competitive 64th edition of New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race.
“It wasn’t as exciting to start with as we were helping because there wasn’t much wind,” Gate said.
“Our plan B was to light it up on the climb into the back of Gore and it just worked out perfectly with James Oram doing a perfect little lead out. The two of us managed to sneak away and then Ben Oliver from his team (Central Benchmakers-Willbike) joined us and the three of us managed to hold off the peloton for the win, so that was awesome.”
Oliver was second on the stage, with Oram third.
Southland’s Matt Zenovich (Vet4Farm) deservedly rode his way into the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey leading a two-man breakaway for most of the stage with New Zealand endurance track representative Jordan Kerby (Base Solutions Racing).
Paul Wright (Creation Signs-MITOQ), who also featured early in the breakaway, finished the day with the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain jersey, while Keegan Hornblow (Business South) managed to hold onto the Henderson Construction U23 jersey.
The Share the Road Ambassador jersey went to Benjamin Ward (C Brown Builders - Olphert Contracting).
Black Spoke have ventured south with a strong team which includes Gate, the 2016 Southland winner, 2013 winner Oram, and two-time winner Scott Guyton in the team car.
Time bonuses helped Gate to a six second overall lead from Oram, with Business South’s Tom Sexton, who started the day in yellow after the opening prologue, in third place 14 seconds down.
Defending champion Michael Vink is in ninth place, trailing Gate by 29 seconds.
Black Spoke will be concerned about Ethan Batt after he was caught up in a crash today, with debutantes Alexander White and Joshua Kench expected to do plenty of work defending the yellow jersey during tomorrow’s 148km stage from Riverton to Te Anau, including the Blackmount hill climb.
“We're sort of going to work it out on the road and see how it goes,” Gate said.
“We’ll be on the front and be active, we don’t want to have too big a group sneaking off the front. Blackmount is always an interesting one that you have to be ready for. It’s not the longest climb but it can still do a bit of damage and it’s often a fast finish from there. We want to be in the right place at the right time and just be attentive really.”
1. Aaron Gate (BSP) 3h32m00s; 2. Ben Oliver (CBW) ST; 3. James Oram (BSP) ST; 4. Corbin Strong (PNL) at 12s; 5. Dylan Kennett (TET) at 12s; 6. Mark Stewart (VFF) at 12s; 7. George Jackson (CSM) at 12s; 8. Campbell Stewart (BSR) at 12s; 9. Luke Mudgway (BSP) at 13s; 10. Nicholas Kergozou (CPB) at 13s; 11. Laurence Pithie (CCA) at 13s; 12. Madi Hartly-Brown (CPB) at 13s; 13. Tom Sexton (BSS) at 13s; 14. Jake Marryatt (RVR) at 13s; 15. Boris Clark (VFF) at 13s; 16. James Krzanich (BJC) at 14s; 17. James Williamson (CSM) at 14s; 18. Joel MacMillan (CBW) at 14s; 19. Henry Levett (CBW) at 14s; 20. Josh Kuysten (PNL) at 14s; 21. Michael Vink (TET) at 14s; 22. Ari Scott (RJS) at 14s; 23. Reuben Thompson (VFF) at 15s; 24. Ollie Jones (PNL) at 15s; 25. William Green (BSS) at 15s;
1. Aaron Gate (BSP) 3h36m48s; 2. James Oram (BSP) at 06s; 3. Tom Sexton (BSS) at 14s; 4. William Green (BSS) at 18s; 5. Keegan Hornblow (BSS) at 18s; 6. Dylan Kennett (TET) at 19s; 7. Campbell Stewart (BSR) at 21s; 8. Michael Vink (TET) at 21s; 9. Nicholas Kergozou (CPB) at 22s; 10. Madi Hartly-Brown (CPB) at 22s; 11. Logan Currie (TET) at 23s; 12. Luke Mudgway (BSP) at 24s; 13. Joel Yates (BSR) at 24s; 14. Glenn Haden (CPB) at 24s; 15. Corbin Strong (PNL) at 25s; 16. Alexander White (BSP) at 25s; 17. Regan Gough (BSR) at 26s; 18. Joshua Kench (BSP) at 27s; 19. Ben Oliver (CBW) at 28s; 20. Josh Kuysten (PNL) at 28s; 21. Ollie Jones (PNL) at 28s; 22. Alex Heaney (PNL) at 28s; 23. George Jackson (CSM) at 29s; 24. Paul Odlin (PNL) at 29s; 25. James Williamson (CSM) at 31s;
1. Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy 10h51m07s; 2. Business South at 09s; 3. Transport Engineering – Talleys at 20s; 4. Coupland’s Bakeries at 25s; 5. Base Solutions Racing at 28s; 6. Powernet at 37s; 7. Creation Signs – MitoQ at 49s; 8. Vet4Farm at 01m00s; 9. Real Journeys at 01m25s; 10. Central Benchmakers – Willbike at 01m27s;
1. Matthew Zenovich (VFF) 25; 2. Jordan Kerby (BSR) 18; 3. James Fouche (CSM) 10; 4. Paul Wright (CSM) 7; 5. Ollie Jones (PNL) 3; 6. Jack Drage (CBW) 3; 7. Tom Sexton (BSS) 2; 8. Kees Duyvesteyn (MEN) 2; 9. Ethan Batt (BSP) 2; 10. Reon Nolan (CCA) 2;
King of Mountains
1. Paul Wright (CSM) 10; 2. Aaron Gate (BSP) 6; 3. Matthew Zenovich (VFF) 6; 4. Jack Drage (CBW) 5; 5. Ben Oliver (CBW) 4; 6. James Oram (BSP) 2; 7. Ollie Jones (PNL) 2; 8. Keegan Hornblow (BSS) 1;
Tomorrow’s stage takes the riders 150km from Riverton along the southern coast, and takes in the Blackmount hill climb before finishing on the Te Anau lakefront about 2pm.