"It's nice that the team has an interest in coming to the [USA Pro Challenge]," he told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "And as soon as I heard they were doing that I put my hand straight up and said, 'Yeah, I'll go there.' So, yeah, I'm really happy to be here."
Pate, of Colorado Springs, started his professional career with the Italian Saeco team in 2000, then came back to the States to race for Prime Alliance, Health Net-Maxxis, Jelly Belly and Jonathan Vaughters' Slipstream program before signing with HTC-Highroad in 2011 and then Sky last year. The 34-year-old veteran won his first national championship as a junior in 1998, and then followed that with wins at the U23 national road race championship in 2000 and the U23 world championship time trial in 2001.
He has twice taken part in winning team time trial efforts at the Giro d'Italia – in 2008 with Slipstream and this year in support of teammate Rigoberto Uran's second-place GC run – and he grabbed a stage win at the 2005 Tour of Missouri. But for the most of his WorldTour career, he has been an invaluable domestique.
This week he is joining Tour de France stars Chris Froome and Richie Porte in support of young Americans Joe Dombrowski and Ian Boswell, who came to the race with GC hopes. But things are looking tough for the young riders, who are both now more than a minute off the pace of race leader Lachlan Morton of Garmin Sharp. Froome is the next-best Sky rider at more than 11 minutes down, and Porte is in 113th place overall, almost 20 minutes in arrears.
"I know we want to race hard here," Pate said. "But it's not the best timing for us and for some of our climbers. So that's just unfortunate, the timing of it. Some of the guys are ramping up toward worlds, and so I think that we're kind of following here a little more than normal, and we'll just see what happens."
The team suffered a blow when Peter Kennaugh took ill Tuesday morning and had to abandon early in the race. Josh Edmondson was in a late breakaway of 15 riders, but the pulled the pin on the slopes of Hoosier Pass and lost nearly 15 minutes to the leaders.
Although Sky's GC hopes are getting dim, Pate said he will look for his own opportunity in the coming days.
"Maybe on one of the flatter days I'll try to sneak into the breakaway and give it a try," he said. "After the GC gets settled out a bit we'll see what happens."