Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy got their 2020 season underway in style today with a perfectly timed run that saw Aaron Gate win stage one of the New Zealand Classic in the Wairarapa; starting this year’s edition identically to last year’s.

Gate, the defending New Zealand Cycle Classic champion, took out the 122km stage in a sprint finish up Lansdowne Hill in 2hr 49min 41 secs while Australian rider Jensen Plowright, riding for Team BridgeLane finished second and Kiwi Dylan Kennett, riding for St George Continental finished third.

At the presentation ceremony held at the Masterton Golf Club, Gate told the crowd he couldn’t think of a better way to begin his 2020 season. He also thanked his teammates for executing such precision to ensure he was in the perfect position heading into the final 1km, including the short, sharp hill climb.

“I know it sounds like a cliche, but I would not have been able to do it without the guys. That clear cut (strategy) was awesome and they did it perfectly for me,” he said.

“The boys led it up from the bottom of the corner and I did the last 200m … job done.”

Plowright, who also was awarded the Fagan Motors Under-23 Classification Jersey admitted the final hill climb was a tough end to the undulating stage held in cool and relatively calm conditions. He paid tribute to Gate, saying Black Spoke had timed their run perfectly.

Kennett, who was also awarded the Sprint Ace jersey, also commented on the stage.

“It was a cool finish. You don’t see many finishes like that in New Zealand.”

Even though there were several attempts to establish a breakaway in the first 30km of racing, nothing was successful, until 68km when Frank Sutton (WBS Cycling Team) and Logan Griffin (Cabjaks – Castelli) powered out in front of the peloton with a 32 second lead. The pair worked hard together racing through the rolling, rural countryside between Masterton and Eketahuna and extended their lead to 2mins 04 secs.

However at 100km, the peloton which was led by riders from Black Spoke, New Zealand Cycling Project and Team BridgeLane, began to put the pressure on. They eventually clawed back any advantage made by Sutton and Griffin, so that by the time the riders were within 7km of the finish line, they were all back together again.

New Zealand Cycle Classic Race director Jorge Sandoval described today’s racing as aggressive.

“It proved the strong teams here are here to win and the likes of Black Spoke did everything right to get Aaron to get the stage win. What a great start to the Tour.”

Racing continues tomorrow with a 121km stage that starts and finishes in Masterton, but takes riders out into the Gladstone region.

Photo: Dave Lintott

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