Aaron Gate continued to build on his lead in the king of the mountains classification in stage 5 of the Tour of Austria.  Entering the break of the day, Gate continued to tally up the points on the day’s first of two king of the mountains climbs, with Pieter Weening of Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij winning the stage.

Stage 5 of the Tour of Austria was a relatively tame 92.9km, but what it lacked in distance it more than made up for in punch, particularly in the latter stages of the race where a brutal 17km climb led to the finish.  The only other climb peaked at 16km into the race, but ranked at category 1 the climb had plenty of points on offer for the riders.

Gate was determined to enter the break of the day and he succeeded, taking his place as one of 13 riders in the break that hit the category 1 climb to Felber Tauern with a lead of 1.50mins and climbing.  Gate’s nemesis in the king of the mountains classification battle, second placed Davide Orrico of Team Vorarlberg Santic, started the stage 18 points behind Gate and he also entered the breakaway.  But it was Gate who managed to take maximum points at the summit of the climb and extend his lead from 18 points to 22 points; a grand total of 59 points.

The breakaway managed to build a lead of some 3.30mins before the time gap started to come back down, and Gate could have easily gotten away with the same tactic employed by Dion Smith in stage 2 of the Tour de France, sitting up shortly after the climb and conserving energy in the run up to the finale; but instead Gate stayed in the group and with 25km to go the 3.30min time gap stood.

On the final climb up the Großglockner the break still led from the peloton, but the gap was coming down, and with 10km of the climb remaining Gate was back in the group to support teammate Mark Christian; knowing that his point accumulating potential was limited as he went up against the GC candidates.  

Gate’s job was done though and with 59 points in the bag the former world track champion Gate’s grip on one of cycling’s coolest king of the mountains jerseys is getting tighter.  Stage 6 will see three categorised climbs – one of them a category 1 rise – the sternest of the final three stages in terms of climbs; although the stage ends with a downhill and flat run in.

After the stage Gate looked ahead at what was to come, and recognised how crucial tomorrow’s stage could be to the final destination of the king of the mountains jersey.

“It’s definitely not all over rover yet,” Aaron said in a post-race interview.  “There’s a lot more to fight for and I think tomorrow’s going to be a big one for the KOM competition with a Cat. 1, 2 and 3 all on offer.”

“It would be nice to get up there again tomorrow and really secure the classification because stage 7 is going to be a gamble.  It’s a four-lap circuit with one really hard Cat. 2 climb meaning there are 32 point on offer on that day alone.”

“It’s definitely not a classification I came into this race thinking I would be targeting or in contention for, but that’s bike racing.  You have to be able to think on your feet and take the opportunities that are in front of you.”

 

Photo:  Karen M. Edwards

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