Olympic cyclist Aaron Gate has finished third in the individual time trial on the fourth stage of the Fleche du Sud in Luxembourg today.
He pipped fellow London Olympic track teammate Westley Gough for the final place on the podium after a strong performance in the 14.88km time trial in the UCI Europe Tour event.
Gate clocked 21:28 to be 26 seconds behind the winner, local rider Bob Jungels, riding for the Leopard Trek team. The kiwi was only 38/100ths of a second from second placed Adam Phelan (Drapac) while Gough was timed at 21:39 in fourth.
New Zealand’s Olympic endurance track team have begun their track racing phase in Europe in preparations for London with coach Tim Carswell satisfied with the performances.
“This is just the second stage race of this European racing block and all the guys are finding their road form after the World Track Championship in Australia,” Carswell said. “Seeing results like this is encouraging and all a step in the right direction for the Olympics.
“Competing on the road in Europe is always challenging with strong fields in almost all races at this level.”
Today’s time trial course from Tetange to Rumelange was challenging with two steep climbs. Of the other New Zealanders in the BikeNZ squad, omnium rider Shane Archbold was 17th, Myron Simpson 25th and Alex Frame 35th while Marc Ryan withdrew earlier in the tour suffering from the flu.
Jungels is the leader on overall classification going in the final stage with Gough the best placed of the New Zealanders in 11th overall. The Luxembourg rider won the 2010 Junior World Time Trial and has been in outstanding form this year including second in the Nations Cup at the La Cote Picarde.
The Fleche du Sud is a five day stage race with previous winners including pro tour stars Andy Schleck (LUX) in 2004 and Geraint Thomas (GBR) in 2006.
Results, Fleche de Sud, Luxembourg, stage 3 time trial 14.88km: Bob Jungels (LUX) 21.02, 1; Adam Phelan (AUS) at 25s, 2; Aaron Gate (NZL) at 26s, 3. Also New Zealanders: Westley Gough at 37s, 4; Shane Archbold at 1:13, 17; Myron Simpson at 1:22, 25; Alex Frame at 1:38, 35.