Cycling: Aaron Gate's plea for future of Kiwi pro cycling team

There are growing concerns over the future development of Kiwi road cyclists, after the abrupt halt to a locally-backed professional team. 

With title sponsor Bolton Equities confirming last month they're ending their major funding at the end of the current season, which concludes this week, New Zealand's first ever UCI Pro team, Black Spoke, won't compete next season. 

It means for senior rider Aaron Gate, it's been a frantic few months. 

"It was definitely a lot more stressful, than I would've liked at this time of year," Gate told Newshub from his Spanish base.  

"It's meant to be your down time, where you're resetting and getting to spend time with the family and focussing on stuff that isn't riding your bike." 

The four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and points race world champion broke his collarbone in August's Tour of Denmark. 

Shortly afterwards came confirmation of Murray Bolton and Bolton Equities' withdrawal from Black Spoke. 

"The abrupt end wasn't what we were hoping for" Gate conceded. "But at the end of the day, we can't look past the great opportunities we did have.  

Aaron Gate in action for Black Spoke.
Aaron Gate in action for Black Spoke. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It was a pretty special four years." 

Four years which saw Kiwi riders topping podiums around the world - including Gate at the 2022 Tour of Luxembourg - and the team granted a ProTeam licence.  

"I think we can't look back on it without there being a positive light because the things we did together, as a young Kiwi squad, or young plus me, was pretty cool. 

"It's just now, hopefully this remains a step and we can continue to build from there in the future and something can come back and we can be bigger and better again.  

"It's what we can hope for as a cycling nation." 

But for many of the athletes, their futures are now uncertain. 

"It's pretty hard to then slot all 17 of those guys into other professional teams next year because the numbers just don't stack up. Those spots just don't appear. 

Gate and George Jackson are a couple of the lucky ones, after being picked up by Spanish outfit Burgos BH. 

"Or biache if you want to put your Espanyol flair on it," Gate laughed. 

Black Spoke hasn't folded, and there are still ongoing discussions to try and keep the team alive. 

And while its survival isn't crucial for the future of all Kiwi cyclists- as the likes of George Bennett, Corbin Strong and Dion Smith have proven - Gate still hopes a financial saviour will come to the party. 

"It is justifiable," he insisted. "You look at the return on investment that a multi-national would get for having the cycling team and the naming rights. What you get back in terms of tv coverage and articles and everything else is pretty huge. 

"I just think that pathway was so inspirational for so many young New Zealanders too, and I just hope that something like that can come back. 

Young guys who, with the right backing, could shine on the world stage as brightly as Gate has.