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Gaze follows plan to win U23 bike title

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/07/2016

Rio-bound mountain biker Sam Gaze says it's a phenomenal feeling to win an event he has been targeting for months.

Gaze gave himself a big confidence boost ahead of the Olympics in August by claiming the under-23 cross-country world title in the Czech Republic.

He follows in the footsteps of fellow New Zealander Anton Cooper, who took the crown last year but wasn't able to defend it because of illness.

"To win this is a phenomenal feeling," Gaze said.

"I've been eyeing this race for months and months with my coach. To finally get the result I wanted and to do my team, my country and my family proud - it's a great feeling."

What particularly satisfied Gaze, who rides professionally for Specialized Factory Team, was being able to execute a plan devised by Swiss coach Christoph Sauser.

The Cambridge 20-year-old waited until the major climb on the penultimate lap at the Nove Mesto na Morave course to make his move.

He then cleared away for an emphatic victory.

"I had it thought out in training as the place to go," he said.

"It's the start of a nice steep climb. It was quite hard to hold myself back but I managed to do it and, when the moment came with a lap and a half to go, I was 100 per cent committed and gave it everything I had."

Gaze came into the event on the back two wins and a third placing in his three World Cup races this season.

Those results followed a brutal off-season training block in South Africa with Sauser, an Olympic medallist.

"The guy's a legend and he's been like a dad to me," Gaze said.

"He has looked after me so well since last year's world champs. He's had a great plan from months ago."

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