• New Zealand's Sam Gaze wins the under 23 MTB world championship (Rob Jones)Source: Rob Jones
Denmark and New Zealand were the winners on Saturday at the 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic.
3 Jul 2016 - 9:55 PM 

Sam Gaze of New Zealand won the Under-23 Men's cross-country, while Denmark's Annika Langvad took the Elite Women's title.

Both races saw a small group of contenders pull away from the rest of the field, with the winner then attacking to take a solo victory. The forecast rain did not materialize, and the huge crowd, numbering 15000-plus cheered on all the riders.

The under-23 men's race quickly came down to five riders - Gaze, Victor Koretzky (France), Marcel Guerrini (Switzerland), Titouan Carod (France) and Simon Andreassen (Denmark).

Gaze and Koretzky were clearly the strongest, and when Gaze attacked on a climb on the fourth lap, only Koretzky tried to go with him, but was dropped on the main climb. By the end of the lap, and starting the final lap, Gaze was 24 seconds clear and continue to extend his lead to finish 50 seconds ahead of Koretzky, with Guerrini a further 14 seconds behind.  Scott Bowden was the top Australian finisher, in 20th place.

"I knew Victor was the one I had to watch," Gaze said. "I tried to stay relaxed and wait until the right moment to attack.  This is incredible; I have always dreamed of winning the world championship, and now it has happened.  It's crazy."

The women's race was down to eight riders by the end of the start loop, with Canada's Catharine Pendrel setting the pace, followed by Langvad, Jolanda Neff (Switzerland), Katerina Nash (Czech Republic), Emily Batty (Canada), Sabine Spitz (Germany), Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) and Linda Indergand (Switzerland). 

This group was quickly whittled down to Langvad, Pendrel, Wloszczowska, Nash and Batty, and then Langvad just rode the rest off her wheel.

Wloszczowska moved into second, with Spitz in third and the two Canadians in fourth and fifth. However, Lea Davison (USA) was bridging up and moved into fourth by lap four. 

Then disaster struck for both Spitz and Wloszczowska, who both flatted in the final lap, enabling Davison to move into the silver medal spot. Batty also passed Wloszczowska in the Tech Zone, but the Polish rider caught up to her in the final 400 metres, setting the stage for a dramatic sprint, with Batty winning the bronze medal by a bike throw at the line. Peta Mullens was the top Australian finisher in 21st place.

"I knew on this course you have to be at the front because there are so many places you can't overtake," Langvad said.  "This year I feel so good. I arrived [at the Worlds] with lots of confidence and I kept everything together.

"I knew I didn't have to overdo things, because I knew I was strong.  When you're at the front you can ride your own race and you can also make a few mistakes, because nobody rides this race on this course without making a few mistakes."