Date: Friday, 11 November 2016

In-form riders Aaron Gate and Alex Frame will be among the riders to beat in Sunday’s Skoda Criterium National Championships in Auckland.

Gate wants to celebrate his move to an exciting new professional road team with victory around the streets of Takapuna on Sunday, after winning the overall honours in the Tour of Southland last week.

The 2013 track world champion in the omnium will join the new Aqua Blue Sport, the first Irish Pro Continental professional team, who are planning to rise to World Tour status in four years.

Gate would like nothing more than to add the criterium title to his victory in the Tour of Southland after twice finishing on the podium.

Frame, a member of the 2015 world champion team pursuit on the track, is a renowned and exciting rider with a powerful sprint, ideally suited to the tight criterium racing.

The Christchurch rider, who rides for the British-based continental team JLT Condor, also comes into the championships in good form, after gaining a stage win and two second placings in the Tour of Southland.

Other riders to watch include local North Shore professional James Oram, who rides for Pro Continental team One Pro Cycling based in Europe; fellow Aucklander Taylor Gunman, who rides for UK-based Madison Genesis team and the 2015 Oceania road champion; last year’s runner-up Regan Gough, a 2015 track world champion and Rio Olympian; fellow Rio Olympian Dylan Kennett and Cycling New Zealand high performance squad rider, Nick Kergozou.

Olympian Raquel Sheath, fourth in the team pursuit in Rio, headlines the women’s field, with the experienced high performance rider Pip Sutton, a previous podium finisher, a clear threat.

There are a bunch of rising stars including former junior world champion Bryony Botha (Auckland), and high performance track riders Holly Edmondston, Alysha Keith and Kirstie James.

There will be interest also in former Southland rider Ellesse Andrews, who won a junior world championship sprint title on the track this year.

The exciting multi-lap course takes in Hurstmere Rd and The Strand in the Takapuna CBD, with free entry for spectators. Racing begins at 3.30pm on Sunday 13 November with the Open B Grade Men and Women (20mins),  Under 17 Girls (20 minutes), Under 17 Boys (20 mins), elite women (35 min) with the Elite men schedule to start around 5.45pm (45 min).

CAPTION: Action in last year’s Skoda Criterium National Championships in downtown Takapuna.

Credit: Scottie T Photography

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