Newly crowned under-23 world champion Sam Gaze had to settle for third place in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Switzerland. Gaze, who won the under-23 world title two weeks ago, is now focussing on his preparations for next month’s Rio Olympics.
Sporting his rainbow jersey as world champion or the first time, the Specialized professional finished third behind Frenchman Titouan Carod and Denmark’s Simon Andreassen at Lenzerheide.
Carod, who finished sixth in the under-23 race at the world championships, won in 1:16.03 with Gaze 2:37 behind in third.
The French rider leads the World Cup standings on 310 points with Gaze second on 300.
The other New Zealand riders, also backing up after the demanding world championship test, finished down the field. North Canterbury’s Ben Oliver was 41st, Wellington’s Jack Compton 42nd and Craig Oliver 91st.
Meanwhile the 2015 national champion George Brannigan from Hawkes Bay earned a top-10 finish in the elite downhill competition at Lenzerheide. The Commencal/Vallnord professional finished 10th behind winner Danny Hart (GBR) after qualifying second fastest.
Of the other Kiwis, Brook MacDonald (GT Factory Racing) was 25th, national champion Rupert Chapman (Bergamont Hayes Factory) 43rd, Sam Blenkinsop (Norco Factory Racing) 47th, Bryn Dickerson 70th and Louis Hamilton 72nd.
Veronique Sandler was the only New Zealand rider in the elite women’s downhill, finishing 23rd, some 36 seconds behind the seemingly unbeatable Rachel Atherton (GBR).
The next round is at Mont Sainte Anne in Canada next month.
Photo: Michal Cerveny/Specialized