Former world track champion Aaron Gate will round out a four-man Kiwi contingent to contest cycling's third Grand Tour - Vuelta a Espana - starting this weekend.

Gate, 26, who won the 2013 world omnium crown and finished second in the same event earlier this year, also helping New Zealand to a team pursuit bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics and fourth last year in Rio.

But he's also a dab hand on the road, winning the 2016 Tour of Southland and helping the Irish-based Aqua Blue Sport team to a wildcard entry in the Tour of Spain.

"It's an opportunity I certainly want to make the most of and see what I can do for both the loyal Kiwi and Aqua Blue Sport supporters," he told RoadCycling.co.nz.

Advertisement

"Once the team announced their wildcard invite to the race, which was definitely a big surprise in itself, the season for us has certainly been gearing towards it.

"I think being able to be a part of our successful squad at the Tour de Suiss was a big step towards cementing my place in the Vuelta squad and the team seems to appreciate my consistency throughout the entire season, which I think is going to be a crucial part of simply making it to the end of the 21st stage."

The 3324km journey begins tomorrow with a team time trial in Nimes, France, and will finish on September 10 in Madrid. It's the first time the race has begun in France and the third time outside Spain.

Gate joins Tour of California winner George Bennett (Lotto NL-Jumbo), and fellow Kiwis Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott) and Tom Scully (Cannondale-Drapac) on the start-line.

Bennett, who finished 10th overall in this race last year, is backing up from his Tour de France heroics, where he was contending for a top-10 finish before withdrawing through exhaustion.

Gate's main role will be as lead-out man for team-mate and sprint specialist Adam Blythe, as well as supporting US road race champion Larry Warbasse.

"It's no secret that we are here to target a stage win and we have a couple of options to achieve this," he said to RoadCycling.co.nz.

"The first is that Adam Blythe has been on great form lately and although there are only a few stages throughout the entire Vuelta that look 'certain' to be bunch sprints, in those chances we do get, we will definitely be trying to set Adam up for the win.

"Most definitely a stage win is a big goal for a relatively small team like ours in its first ever season and Grand Tour, but we believe it is achievable.

"Apart from that, we also want our special white-and-gold jerseys - plus Larry's stars and stripes - getting plenty of time on TV screens."

2017 Vuelta a Espana Route

Stage 1 (13.7km, team time trial) - August 19, Nimes

Stage 2 (203.4km, flat) - August 20, Nimes to Gruissan

Stage 3 (158.5km, mountain) - August 21, Prades Confluent Canigo to Andorra

Stage 4 (198.2km, flat) - August 22, Escaldes-Engordany to Tarragona

Stage 5 (175.7km, hills) - August 23, Beniscassim to Alcossebre

Stage 6 (204.4km, hills) - August 24, Villarreal to Sagunto

Stage 7 (207km, flat) - August 25, Lliria to Cuenca

Stage 8 (199.5km, hills) - August 26, Hellin to Xorret de Cati

Stage 9 (174km, medium mountain) - August 27, Orihuela to Cumbre del Sol

Rest day - August 28, Province of Alicante

Stage 10 (164.8km, medium mountain) - August 29, Caravaca de la Cruz to El Pozo Alimentacion

Stage 11 (187.5km, mountain) - August 30, Lorca to Observatorio Astronomico de Calar Alto

Stage 12 (160.1km, medium mountain) - August 31, Motril to Antequerra

Stage 13 (198.4km, flat) - September 1, Coin to Tomares

Stage 14 (175km, mountain) - September 2, Ecija to Sierra de la Pandera

Stage 15 (129.4km, mountain) - September 3, Alcala la Real to Alto Hoya de la Mora

Rest day - September 4, Logrono

Stage 16 (40.2km, individual time trial) - September 5, Circuito de Navarra to Logrono

Stage 17 (180.5km, mountain) - September 6, Villadiego to Los Machucos

Stage 18 (169km, medium mountain) - September 7, Suances to Santo Toribio de Liebana

Stage 19 (149.7km, medium mountain) - September 8, Caso to Gijon

Stage 20 (117.5km, mountain) - September 9, Corvera de Asthurias to Alto de l'Angliru

Stage 21 (117.6km, flat) - September 10, Arroyomolinos to Madrid