Gaze pips Schurter in thriller as dominant Langvad triumphs too

Kiwi ends UCI MTB champion’s winning XCO run in South Africa season opener.

New Zealand’s Sam Gaze held off reigning UCI Mountain Bike World Cup cross-country champion Nino Schurter in a thriller to start the new season in South Africa.

Gaze led going into the final sprint with Schurter slipping a pedal close to the finish line while Frenchman Maxime Marotte fell just short after a late comeback.

Denmark’s Annika Langvad won the women’s race from France’s in-form Pauline Ferrand-Prévot with the Netherlands’ Anne Tauber a best ever third.

– The Stellenbosch victory is Gaze’s first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup XCO elite win.

– The 22-year-old Gaze won the U23 XCO title at the 2017 World Championships at Val di Sole in Italy.

– Gaze’s thrilling triumph brings Schurter’s winning run of six UCI MTB XCO races in a row to an end.

– Gaze revealed, "It’s a dream come true. I grew up idolising guys like Nino. You always dream you can do it and it is a beautiful moment when you finally do it. I started to cramp up with a lap and a half to go and I put on a poker face. I got closer to the finish and knew I had to be in front to have the advantage in the sprint."

– Langvad won XCO gold at the 2016 World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

– Dentist Langvad has also won four marathon World Championship gold medals in a glittering career.

– The 33-year-old Langvad said, "It was a really good day for me on an intense course where it is easy to make small mistakes. I had a stick in my wheel plus I had to unclip and run. I always manage to keep my head composed and come back, though."

– World champion Jolanda Neff finished an excellent sixth despite a recent broken collarbone.

– The Specialized S-Racing pair were victorious on a dusty, drought-hit 4.4km track near to where Swiss star Schurter trains regularly and has a property.

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