Sam Gaze added New Zealand to the list of nations who have won world titles at the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, Australia, on Friday. Gaze was the defending champion in Under-23 men's XCO. Alan Hatherly of South Africa took the silver medal and Maximilian Brandl of Germany the bronze.
A group of 14 riders had split from the main field by the end of the start loop, as the riders headed out for six laps of the 4.3 kilometre circuit through the rainforest at Smithfield Park.
That group was down to eight after the first lap and six after two laps. The final medal selection was made on the fourth lap, when Gaze upped the pace and only Hatherly could go with him. Brandl rode alone in third for the rest of the race.
Gaze attacked again on the fifth lap, opening a 13 second gap as he began the final lap. Hatherly was able to limit the time loss, but could not close the gap, finishing 11 seconds back, with Brandl at 51 seconds.
"It was a very technical race because a lot of the boys were going well today," said Gaze. "For me it was key to have a good start loop because it allows you to be first on the climb, which makes it easier for the rest of the lap. So my plan was to stay at the front and be in control and wait for a moment that suited me. But U23 is unpredictable because there are so many good riders coming up, so I'm happy to be able to pull on the rainbow jersey for a second year in a row."
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