Opening the Gates to career
AFTER living around the globe following his stepfather’s world tour career, Amarni Gates has found a home on the Sunshine Coast and is ready to put his own stamp on the cycling world.
Gates, who is part of the new Australian Cycling Academy – Ride Sunshine Coast team, is jetting off to Japan later this month after his first taste of high-class action during the summer.
The 18-year-old raced in The Jayco Herald Sun Tour, his first major multi-stage event, last month and said it was “eye opening” to see how good the other riders were.
He said the most nerve wracking part was when he saw all the cyclists he looked up to in the hotel and realised he was facing them the next day.
In a race won by Columbian Esteban Chavez, Gates said it was a great experience and he was happy to play his role for the team, even if it did not end as well as he hoped.
“The last day I suffered a mechanical problem with my bike and couldn’t finish the race so I was pretty devastated but that’s bike racing,” he said.
Gates was thankful for the knowledge of veteran teammate and high-performance director Stuart Shaw on the team during the race.
The teenager and new recruit Freddy Ovett picked Shaw’s brain to help understand the world of cycling.
And Gates has another mentor close to home.
Now getting older, Gates said he was beginning to appreciate all the tips from his stepdad Nick, who rode in the Tour de France.
“When your dad gives you advice it sorta goes in one ear and out the other,” he said.
“It isn’t till later you go ‘oh wow … it really did mean something’.”
Gates did not pick up the sport until returning to Australia from France when he was 12.
Two years later he moved to Thailand where Nick was a cycling academy director and his love for the bike grew.
He moved to the Gold Coast in 2016 and has now settled with his new team at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“The training here is amazing at the Sunshine Coast, and the facilities,” he said.
“Everyone is just so relaxed up here, you can really focus when you’re training.”
Gates is also starting a Bachelor of Sports Studies as part of the High Performance Student Athlete program at USC.
While his main goal is to make it to the “big leagues” of the world tour, this year he just wants to help his team win and move up the ranks.
Training up to 30 hours a week on the bike, not including gym or pool sessions, he said it was his passion for the sport that kept him out on the road.
“It’s such a weird feeling, I just get excited being out there doing four hours [of training],” he said. “It’s just the love of riding.” His next event is the Tour de Tochigi in Japan on March 23 followed by the National Road Series back in Australia.
Until then he is content figuring out university and training to live out his dream of riding “my bike for a living”.
The Australian Cycling Academy is a new development cycling team supported by major partner, the Sunshine Coast Council, and based out of the high performance precinct of the University of the Sunshine Coast.
LEARNING CURVE: Armarni Gates competes in the Herald Sun Jayco Tour.