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I will be back to defend the ΔΕΗ Tour of Hellas blue jersey

I will be back to defend the ΔΕΗ Tour of Hellas blue jersey

I will be back to defend the ΔΕΗ Tour of Hellas blue jersey

Aaron Gate is not simply another good cycling rider. A three-time Olympian, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, multiple World Championships medallist, and a quadruple Commonwealth champion Gate is prolific and equally efficient both on track and on the road.  

Gate started his 2023 campaign by clinching New Zealand’s Time Trial title and aims to begin his 2023 ΔΕΗ Tour of Hellas trek in the same manner as in last year’s edition, i.e. winning the opening race, which by chance is an Individual Time Trial! 

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Last year you were pretty successful both on the road and on the track. It all started with your win at the ΔΕΗ Tour of Hellas, which was your first general classification victory in a 2.1 race. Which elements helped you win the Tour?

I raced aggressively on the first stage, and with a lot of help from my team mate James Fouche we were able to put a margin on the peloton that they couldn’t close to me. I was then fortunate to have a super strong team around me to help control the race for the remaining 4 stages of the Τour and keep the all-important blue leaders jersey with our team right until the end”.

Your team, Bolton Equities Black Spoke, will once again feature in the Tour of Hellas line-up. Last year, speaking at a post-race interview in Ioannina, you said that you will return in 2023 to defend your title. Will you keep that promise?

Yes, at the moment the plan is still to keep that promise!”

Bolton Equities Black Spoke was upgraded to UCI ProTeam from UCI Continental Team in 2023. What changes does this new status bring to you personally in terms of training and competing, and to your team in terms of planning?

We have a lot more races on our calendar now, including starting the season earlier in Europe. So it can be more difficult to balance the form, but I am hoping to be able to return to Hellas with great form again this year and who knows, maybe I win again the Tour”.

Several road races await your team in 2023, while you will also bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games on the track. Where you will turn your focus?

My focus remains on both road racing and track racing. They both complement each other very well and make me a better rider at both disciplines. But yes, it is still important we qualify enough points on the track to be on the start line in the Paris Olympics next year. An important part of that is the World Championships in Glasgow in August, and the Tour of Hellas is an important part of my plan building towards that at the moment”.

Please tell us what you liked most from last year's Tour of Hellas, and what you think needs to be improved in this year’s edition.

There was a great variety in the stages last year, and some very epic scenery showcasing Greece along the race. The inclusion this year will hopefully be something that suits both myself, as the national time trial champion of New Zealand, and my team mates well.

There were some issues with safety, particularly in the final few hundred meters to the finishes of various stages last year, which included me nearly being sent the wrong way and colliding with a motorbike and pedestrians on the first stage from the lead of the race, as well as big crashes in the sprints, one of them caused by a lot of dust and grit on the road with a dangerous finish corner – hopefully these can be resolved and we can also enjoy a much safer race for all the competitors this year’’.