Gaze battles in Brazil for third overall in UCI MTB World Cup opener

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Kiwi mountain biker Sam Gaze dug deep to finish third overall on combined points for the opening round of the UCI MTB World Cup in Mairiporā, Brazil.

After winning the short track race two days ago, the Alpecin Fenix rider was seventh in a brutal elite men’s cross-country, raced in expected high humidity and unexpectedly demanding course for the first UCI MTB XCO World Cup.

It was tougher for fellow New Zealand riders with Ben Oliver in 55th and an ill Anton Cooper limping home in 61st.

Gaze went clear in a select group of seven riders who remained largely intact throughout the second half of the race. The kiwi rider rode near the front until a slip on the tricky climb, but he recovered on to the back of the group until American Christopher Blevins sprinted clear for the win on the final lap.

Cycling New Zealand MTB coach Sam Thompson said the course had provided a tough test, and while they were aware that humidity would be a factor, they found the course had more climbing tests than initial mapping suggested.

He said Gaze dug deep to stay with the leading group and the focus would be on recovery for the three kiwi riders before racing the second round further north and inland at Araxá next weekend. 

Earlier Christchurch rider Ethan Rose (Trek Future) finished 26th in his debut in the under-23 men’s field, while Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds dominated the elite women’s race.

Elite men: Christopher Blevins (USA) 1:30.00, 1; Victor Koretzky (FRA) at 2s, 2; Filipo Colombo (SUI) at 3s, 3; Jordan Sarrou (FRA) at 5s, 4; Martin Vidaurre Kossman (CHI) at 5s, 5;  Also: Sam Gaze (NZL) at 20s, 7; Ben Oliver at 7:48, 56; Anton Cooper at 8:58, 62.

Elite women: Jenny Rissveds (SWE) 1:17.18, 1; Savillia Blunk (USA) at 27s, 2; Haley Batten (USA) at 45s, 3.

Under 23 Men: Riley Amos USA) 1:06.31, 1; Bjorn Riley (USA) at 9s, 2; Finn Treudler (SUI) at 20s, 3. Also: Ethan Rose (NZL) at 5:07, 23.

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