Double World Under-23 Mountain Bike Champion Sam Gaze took his first Criterium National title today in Takapuna after a highly aggressive race.  The Cambridge rider, ill during the week, jumped across to the leading pair Alexander Ray and James Fouche who remained clear of the chasers before Gaze out-kicked them in the sprint.

The men’s race was a brutal affair from the get-go when UK-based Madison Genesis professional Taylor Gunman broke from the start. Gunman and Spoken’s Luke Mudgway were constants on the front of the race, with a number of riders attempting to come over and join them.  Most successful in bridging across to the front of the race was Oscar Elworthy of Team Skoda Racing, although it was interesting to see Team Skoda Racing continuing to play an active role on the front of the chasing peloton; appearing to aide the chase effort rather than prolong Elworthy’s stint out front.

Auckland pro Alexander Ray, who won the green sprinters’ jersey in the Tour of Southland, then sparked another attack, joined by Fouche and Gaze and this trio remained clear as the rest of the field struggled under the onslaught.  The trio worked efficiently together with Ray’s rich history of criterium racing taken from his vast experience of criteriums in America, combined with the massive engine of James Fouche and the incredibly vast talents of Gaze complimenting each other brilliantly until allegiances were put aside on the final lap where the trio attacked each other.

It would ultimately come down to a sprint between the three of them and it was Gaze who had the superior sprint to the line to add a national road title to his list of accolades.  “This was not something I thought I could achieve after what has been a long and fantastic mountain bike season,” said Gaze.  “I was not in the best of health this week but wanted to give it my best. This was a surprise but I felt strong and to win a national title on the road is a real honour.”  Ray held on for second with Fouche third.

Earlier Te Awamutu’s Maddi Douglas won the under-17 title while local Takapuna Grammar student Nick Bowen won the under-17 boys honours.

Elite men brief results: 
Pos. Rider

1

Sam Gaze

2

Alexander Ray

3

James Fouche

4

Luke Mudgway

5

Harry Waine

 

Photo: Scottie T Photography

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