New Zealand’s endurance track cyclists have put some important and hard-earned mileage into their legs in a demanding An Post Ras Tour of Ireland that finished near Dublin today. The final day saw Aaron Gate round out a very successful 8 days of racing.
The squad used the tour as important build-up towards the Rio Olympics, with the event’s eight-day loop around the south of Ireland proving challenging in terrain and aggressively fast approach led by the local Irish contingent.
Auckland’s Aaron Gate today secured the Tour’s green jersey for the Points classification for a second successive year. Gate, riding for his An Post Chain Reaction professional team, pushed hard for a second stage win but was edged to fourth in the sprint finish of the final 148km stage to the traditional finish in Skerries just north of Dublin.
The remaining members of the New Zealand team, Hayden Roulston, Nick Kergozou and Regan Gough, finished safely in the peloton recording the same time as the winner Nicholai Brochner from Denmark.
The final stage was anything but a celebratory ride to the finish, covering 47kms in the first hour with a number of pesky breaks, the last of which was extinguished just 6kms from Skerries. Brochner prevailed in the sprint finish with Austria’s Clemens Fankhouser finishing in the bunch to claim his second tour victory in three years.
Gate was the best of the Kiwi track riders in sixth overall, 1:01 behind the winner with Roulston riding strongly throughout to be 18th, Gough 26th and eighth in the young rider category and Kergozou 74th with Piet Bulling and Dylan Kennett retiring earlier in the Tour.
The squad now return to their base in Belgium to continue both road and track training with the final team for Rio to be selected in early July.
Stage 8 results: (Kildare to Skerries, 148km): Nicolai Brochner (DEN) 3:19:19, 1; Taco van der Hoorn (NED) same time, 2; Emiel Wastyn (BEL) st, 3; Aaron Gate (NZL, An Post Chain Reaction) st, 4. New Zealand riders: Nick Kergozou st, 19; Hayden Roulston st, 47; Regan Gough st, 52.
General classification final: Clemens Fankhouser (AUT) 28:22.56, 1; Jai Hindley (AUS) at 3s, 2; Lucas Hamilton (AUS) at 13s, 3. New Zealanders: Aaron Gate at 1:01, 6; Roulston at 4:38, 18; Gough at 14:55, 26; Kergozou at 50:46, 74.
Photo credit: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne