New Zealand's Samuel Gaze, appearing in the first World Cup final of his career, took the men's title and the leader's jersey in the opening round of the eliminator World Cup, in Cairns, Australia. Gaze easily handled the muddy and wet conditions that had other riders crashing.
The technical 813-metre circuit was made even more difficult by the wet conditions, with riders sliding out in corners and on the roots as they desperately attempted to gain traction. The winning tactic proved to be getting the hole shot into the first corner before the climb. From there, it was a matter of avoiding mistakes in the downhill and keeping up the speed into the final long straightaway.
The men's competition saw a number of top contenders go out in the early rounds, a victim of crashes as they tried to push the limits in the muddy conditions. Fabrice Mels (Salcano Alanya), Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Focus XC) and Germany's Simon Gegenheimer all crashed out of competition.
Gaze rode from the front in each race, looking confident and in control. Joining him in the final were defending World Cup champion Daniel Federspiel (Oetztal Scott), world champion and Australian local Paul van der Ploeg and Emil Lindgren (Giant Pro XC).
Gaze got off to a very strong start, with van der Ploeg in second. Federspiel, usually a fast starter, hit the climb in fourth, but overtook Lindgren and then closed on van der Ploeg, when the world champion decided to take a slower line through the drop-off. While Gaze rolled across the finish with his hands in the air, Federspiel unleashed an explosive turn of speed in the final 100 metres to overtake van der Ploeg for second.
"I've been training for Nationals," said Gaze, "but I'm speechless; it's amazing to win. Australia and New Zealand have such a good relationship, so it's great to come over here with family and friends, and do well. It was hard out there; death by a thousand paper cuts. I knew how fast Daniel [Federspiel] was on that final straight, so I just had to go from the gun and give it everything I had. I'm just happy to come out on top."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Samuel Gaze (NZl)|
|2||Daniel Federspiel (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team|
|3||Paul Van Der Ploeg (Aus)|
|4||Emil Lindgren (Swe) Giant Pro Xc Team|
|5||Julian Schelb (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team|
|6||Simon Gegenheimer (Ger)|
|7||Gregor Raggl (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team|
|8||Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Ger) Focus Xc Team|
|9||Fabrice Mels (Bel) Salcano Alanya|
|10||Shaun Lewis (Aus)|
|11||Matthias Stirnemann (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team|
|12||Fabian Giger (Swi) Giant Pro Xc Team|
|13||Tristan Ward (Aus)|
|14||Kevin Van Hoovels (Bel) Versluys Team|
|15||Steffen Thum (Ger)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Samuel Gaze* (NZl)||60||pts|
|2||Daniel Federspiel (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team||40|
|3||Paul Van Der Ploeg (Aus)||30|
|4||Emil Lindgren (Swe) Giant Pro XC Team||25|
|5||Julian Schelb* (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team||20|
|6||Simon Gegenheimer (Ger)||18|
|7||Gregor Raggl* (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team||16|
|8||Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Ger) Focus XC Team||14|
|9||Fabrice Mels* (Bel) Salcano Alanya||12|
|10||Shaun Lewis (Aus)||10|
|11||Matthias Stirnemann (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team||8|
|12||Fabian Giger (Swi) Giant Pro XC Team||6|
|13||Tristan Ward* (Aus)||4|
|14||Kevin Van Hoovels (Bel) Versluys Team||3|
|15||Steffen Thum (Ger)||2|
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