Sam Gaze overcame a last lap puncture to beat New Zealand compatriot and defending champion Anton Cooper to Commonwealth Games mountain bike gold. Gaze got the better of Cooper in a two-up sprint for gold with bronze for South African Alan Hatherly. Ben Oliver closed out a banner day for New Zealand as he finished in fourth place.
Gaze was second to Cooper in the 2014 Glasgow mountain bike race and was looking at a repeat silver medal when he stopped in the mechanical pits with a rear flat the start of the final lap. Cooper and Hatherly had pushed on without and the U23 world champion looked to be out of contention for silver or gold. However, a blistering chase quickly brought back Hatherly. Gaze turning the pedals in anger as he then reeled in Cooper.
"There is good sportsmanship and there's not, and I feel like that wasn't there today. It's a bit of a shame really, I've got the utmost respect for the guy, still, even with that move," Gaze said according to Stuff.nz. "That's racing, you can't get along with everyone."
With Gaze possessing the faster sprint finish of the duo, Cooper did his best to drop his compatriot. Gaze proved equal to Cooper's strength though, moving into front position inside the final 500 metres of the race. On the velodrome finish, Gaze led out the sprint with enough time to raise a finger to his lips, silencing his doubters, before celebrating the win.
"I went in with one goal and one goal only and I'm honoured I could take it out," said the 22-year-old. "I've also got racing on Saturday with the men's road race so I wanted to conserve best as I can and make up where I could."
From the gun, New Zealand's three riders made their presence felt in the race, leading into the holeshot and never giving up front position. Oliver was crucial in setting the early pace to distance the likes of Dan McConnell. The leading quartet of Cooper, Gaze, Oliver and Hatherly had been established and would remain unchanged for the seven-lap race.
A chase group including Grant Ferguson briefly made contact on the second lap while a mechanical saw Cooper step out. Both events were minor moments in the race however as the quartet's lead increased to around the one-minute mark.
While Cooper and Gaze were enjoying a day out, the early efforts from Oliver took the toll and he dropped from the front group. From the now leading trio, Cooper and Gaze were the riders making the race. Bronze for Hatherly looked a likely outcome but the battle for gold remained open. Cooper was in the box seat to defend his title at the start of the final lap following Gaze's mechanical. Gaze, who won the opening round of the World Cup, had other ideas and pulled off a ride that is sure to go down in Commonwealth Games cycling history.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Samuel Gaze (New Zealand)||1:17:36|
|2||Anton Cooper (New Zealand)|
|3||Alan Hatherly (South Africa)||0:00:20|
|4||Ben Oliver (New Zealand)||0:01:05|
|5||Frazer Clacherty (England)||0:01:38|
|6||Leandre Bouchard (Canada)||0:01:39|
|7||Daniel McConnell (Australia)||0:02:23|
|8||Cameron Orr (Northern Ireland)||0:02:30|
|9||Grant Ferguson (Scotland)||0:04:53|
|10||Nicholas Corlett (Isle of Man)||0:08:44|
|11||Dylan Kerfoot-Robson (Wales)||0:09:01|
|12||Tristan de Lange (Namibia)||0:09:23|
|13||James Roe (Guernsey)||0:09:30|
|14||Rhys Hidrio (Jersey)||0:10:06|
|15||Andreas Miltiadis (Cyprus)||0:10:42|
|16||Michael Serafin Guernsey||- 1 lap|
|17||Marc Potts (Northern Ireland)|
|18||Phetetso Monese (Lesotho)||- 2 laps|
|19||Tumelo Makae (Lesotho)|
|20||Oliver Lowthorpe (Jersey)||- 3 laps|
|21||Andrew Colver (Guernsey)|