Sam Gaze has become the first big name Kiwi to feature in the transfer window. The New Zealander has joined Deceuninck-QuickStep as a stagiaire for the rest of the 2019 season.
The reigning Commonwealth champion and 2x U23 World Cross Country Mountain Bike Champion, Gaze will get his first opportunity on the road with the team affectionately known as the ‘wolf pack’.
Gaze will get an opportunity to immerse himself in an environment that already has acquired 52 race wins in the 2019 season courtesy of the likes of Julian Alaphilippe, Elia Viviani, Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar and Bob Jungels. The team have so far amassed a victory palmares this year that includes wins at Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Fleche Wallonne, Criterium du Dauphine, and 3x stage wins and a long stint in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
Speaking of his opportunity with the team via the team’s website, Sam said, “I have been observing the team’s tremendous success from the outside and it’s spectacular to see what the program has achieved. It has been a lifelong dream to race alongside professional riders such as Gilbert, Stybar and Alaphilippe, and I am looking forward to this opportunity and cutting my teeth in the professional road scene.”
Along with fellow stagiaire signing, Jannik Steimle from Stuttgart, Gaze sees himself as a future classics rider where Gaze could well find himself utilising his already vast mountain biking skills. “I am a bit of a rouleur and my ambition is to one day achieve some big results in the classics, which is something that I really want to pursue. I came from New Zealand to Europe as a second-year under 19, where myself and a friend lived out of a car, joining in the MTB circuit. Some good results led [to] me turning pro with Specialized in 2015 and from there I have had a great time and I have been able to collect two world titles, an Elite World Cup win and raced at the Olympic Games as a 20-year old, which was an incredible experience.”
The road campaign for Gaze begins next month which will allow him to race at the upcoming UCI World Cup races in Val di Sole and Lenzerheide before the World Championships in Canada at the end of August. Gaze will continue to target racing in the mountain bike discipline in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympics; but long term is pursuing the dream of racing at the highest level on the road.
Cycling New Zealand’s High Performance Director, Martin Barras, said in a Cycling New Zealand statement, “This is a wonderful opportunity for Sam with one of the most successful and high profile World Tour road teams. We are absolutely thrilled for him, and we fully support his ambitions both on the road and in mountain bike.”