Cambridge mountain biker Sam Gaze defended his road honours at the Criterium National Championships over the weekend with a stunning performance around the streets of Takapuna.
The double under-23 world champion pushed clear for a solo attack early in the 45-minute event before young guns Campbell Stewart and Sam Dobbs joined him, the trio building an unassailable 25 second lead over a talented field strewn around the 2km circuit.
Dobbs, a former St Peter’s student who recently joined the Cycling New Zealand track programme, took the first tilt at a break but in the end Gaze, fresh off third place in the Tour of Southland, held off Stewart, the Commonwealth Games medallist.
“It’s surprising because I’ve only been back in training four weeks including a lap of the South and I wasn’t expecting too much. But it’s good when the legs turn out well and I love racing in front of so many fans here in Takapuna,” Gaze said following his win on Sunday. “With the performance in Southland and now this, I am perfectly on track. Things are looking better than I could have hoped. My coach may not be so happy that I went so hard today but it’s impossible to sit back when you can race in an event like this here in Takapuna.”
Track cyclist Raquel Sheath overcome a packed field in the sprint finish to grab her second elite women’s title, after a few other locally-based Cycling NZ team members battled for the lead. Holly Edmondston held a six-second lead from mid-race for about ten minutes before Bryony Botha moved into the first-place position at the final eight-minute mark, followed by Michaela Drummond taking a 12 second lead in the final lap, caught only 50 metres from the finish with Sheath timing her sprint perfectly to edge out her rivals. She finished ahead of Performance Hub rider Georgia Danford and Canterbury’s Sharlotte Lucas to claim the honours.