Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning mountain biker Sam Gaze is looking forward to a ‘hot lap’ of the province when he makes his debut in the SBS Bank Tour of Southland later this month.
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The 22-year-old from Tokoroa is no stranger to road racing, but is better known for his exploits on knobbly tyres having twice won the world under 23 cross country title, along with silver and gold at the past two Commonwealth Games.
Unfortunately, a broken wrist and an injured ankle suffered during a World Cup practice run in Canada back in August forced a premature end to his mountain bike season.
“Growing up I would look at the Tour of Southland each year and think how cool it would be to ride that event one day and I’m really looking forward to doing a hot lap of Southland,” Gaze said.
“Most, if not all, of New Zealand’s best road riders have done the Tour of Southland at some point so it will be great to tick it off.”
Gaze will help form a competitive PowerNet team led by the experienced Paul Odlin.
While he is still building his strength following the crash in August, Gaze said he would take any opportunity that presented itself during the tour, which runs from October 28 to November 3.
“I don’t think I’ll have the power to really factor on the climbs, but if I’m in the mix for any of the sprint finishes I’ll definitely give it a go,” he said.
Gaze won the national criterium championships last year and has competed in the elite national road championships.
He will join the likes of defending champion James Piccoli and Hamish Bond on the start line for this year’s tour.
“Sam is a quality athlete and he’s going to be a great asset for the PowerNet team and really complement the team that we’ve put together,” team manager Aaron Sinclair said.
“PowerNet have been long-time supporters of the tour and we are proud to be involved again in 2018.”