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Gates ends career with solo victory among friends

By:
Cycling News
Published:
November 10, 2008, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:42 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, November 10, 2008
Nick Gates (Silence Lotto) gets a little help at the Giro d'Italia

Nick Gates (Silence Lotto) gets a little help at the Giro d'Italia

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By John Trevorrow It was a fairy tale finish to a stellar career for Aussie cycling legend Nick...

By John Trevorrow

It was a fairy tale finish to a stellar career for Aussie cycling legend Nick Gates. In his final race – in the aptly named first annual Nick Gates Classic on Saturday – Gates stormed clear with two laps to go and punched the air in a euphoric salute to 17 years on the bike. But a delayed flight meant that teammate Cadel Evans had to swap the bike for a microphone and help his mate from the sidelines.

Many of Gates' teammates and friends saddled up against a strong local contingent for a 45 minute plus three lap criterium in the inaugural Nick Gates Foundation Classic in Townsville, Australia. Gate's fiancée, Belinda Drake, is from Townsville and after spending some time in the north Queensland capital, Gates saw the potential in some of the youngsters but was made aware of the many problems that they face. Gates decided to form the Nick Gates Foundation to provide the promising juniors with some financial help.

In extremely humid and hot, 30 degree (Celsius) conditions, a group of 10 escaped at the halfway point thanks to many attacks from Columbia pro Scott Davis and Jittery Joe duo Jon Cantwell and Trent Wilson. With six laps to go, Gates got clear with teammate Robbie McEwen, Davis and Henk Vogels. Gates then attacked with two laps to go and McEwen managed to negate the efforts of Vogels and Davis to help his best mate take the victory.

"That was really hard out there today and I am rapt to take out my final race. It was an awesome day," Gates said.

"It was so bloody hot out there that I am as wet as if I had ridden straight into the bay," an exhausted McEwen said. "But I was so happy to see Nick take it out and it gave me great pleasure to help a mate who has put his all into helping me over many years."

Vogels, who pipped McEwen for second place, didn't seem to be upset with losing to his long time friend. "I did try to beat Nick today but he was too strong on the day. But if I wasn't going to win then I couldn't think of a more deserving guy. We have been teammates, room mates and close mates for 15 years and I am as happy as if I had won myself," Vogels said.

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