New Zealand’s Aaron Gate of Bolton Equities Black Spoke emerged victorious at Stage 1 of the ΔΕΗ International Cycling Tour of Hellas

New Zealand’s Aaron Gate of Bolton Equities Black Spoke emerged victorious at Stage 1 of the ΔΕΗ International Cycling Tour of Hellas

Aaron Gate of Bolton Equities Black Spoke won Stage 1 of the ΔΕΗ International Cycling Tour of Hellas. The New Zealander was the first to cross the finish line in in the Venetian port of Chania with a time of 4 hours 23 minutes and 58 seconds. Gate broke away from the peloton with more than 130 kilometres to go and never looked back!

"I didn’t really expect to withstand the pressure until the end.

The race started right from the beginning, immediately from the first climb. I was up in front with my teammates and I was in the move when Fouche came across, I was like tried to feel pretty comfortable.

It’s always difficult for only four to stay away for 170 kms but we pushed the pace really hard.

We leave it to our sports director to make the plan for Stage 2, but we will really put the pressure on the race and try to win the overall.

I came to this beautiful country six years ago on holiday with my wife and to come back and race is very exciting”.

Gate is also leading the points classification with 7 p., but the red jersey, since the New Zealander wears the blue that represents the Tour leader, will be worn by Nils Lau Broge of Bornholm.

Another Bolton Equities Black Spoke rider, Gate’s fellow compatriot James Fouche was “crowned” King of the Mountains and will wear the orange jersey, as he prevailed in both climbing sprints at Cretan Zeus Park and Kouroutes.

Second in the final sprinting amongst the group that trailed behind Gate was Eduard Prades of Caja Rural and third Filippo Baroncini of Trek -Segafredo.

Gate’s, surprising victory came with a lot of effort from the New Zealander’s side in a tough 190-kilometre first stage from Heraklion to Chania, but also following a lack of communication between Caja Rural and Trek-Segafredo with their riders, as neither of them knew that Gate had escaped that far. Actually, both thought they were fighting for victory!

Prades pushed really hard in the final sprint and fell soon after he crossed the finish line, due to a problem with his saddle.

"When we caught the chasing group, I thought I was fighting for victory and I gave it all in the sprint. To be honest I thought I was the winner", admitted the Spaniard.

A clearly disappointed Baroncini, who will were the white jersey for the best young rider, had been left with the same impression:

"I don’t think that in the second stage we will let the breakaway riders escape that far".

For the Greek national team, the best placement came from Polychronis Tzortzakis and Periklis Elias who finished in the 35th and 36th place respectively.

The film of stage 1

The race started with Polychronis Tzortzakis making his favourite move, an early attack, but was quickly caught by the group.

At the 24th kilometre, the four cyclists who would vie for the KoM orange jersey, Fouche, Miltiadis, Broge and Gate, formed the breakaway group and they went five minutes ahead.

On their way to Rethymno the same group fought for the intermediate sprints, with Broge winning the first and Gate the second one in Georgioupolis.

After the second intermediate sprint, the breakaway group began to retreat and on their way to Malaxa, the last ascent before Chania, gradually Miltiadis and then Broge dropped, leaving Gate to tackle alone the climb to the 451 meters summit.

Taking down the descent for the last 10 kms of the stage, on his way to Chania, Gate, advanced, while only four cyclists were left in the chasing group: Broge, Miltiadis, Virtgen and Kubis.

Gate kept flying towards the final straight and crossed the finish line first - a rare feat for a breakaway rider.

The Tour resumes tomorrow with Stage 2 (Athens to Itea). Quick-Step’s Mark Cavendish will honour with his presence the restart of the race.

Photo Credits: Petros Gkotsis

Click here for the Stage 1 Classification





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