Conflict emerges between mountain bike medalists

Author
AAP,
Section
Gold Coast 2018,
Publish Date
Thursday, 12 April 2018, 6:25PM
Sam Gaze and Anton Cooper have reportedly butted heads over how the race was handled. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Sam Gaze and Anton Cooper have reportedly butted heads over how the race was handled. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Kiwi Commonwealth Games mountain-biking gold-medallist Sam Gaze has lashed out at compatriot and silver-medallist Anton Cooper for what he perceived as poor sportsmanship in Thursday's race.

Gaze beat Cooper by a whisker in the Gold Coast's Nerang State Forest, recovering from a late-race tyre puncture to storm home.

Cooper appeared certain to nab back-to-back Games golds when he broke away from Gaze and South African Alan Hatherly with a little over a lap left, almost immediately after Gaze's tyre issue.

Gaze - who nevertheless reeled him in and overtook him down the blind side of a drag - was livid with his compatriot post-race.

He took issue with Cooper's decision to hit the gas and establish a sizeable lead while he was off his bike and tending to his tyre.

Both racers were credited with a time of one hour 17 minutes 36 seconds after the seven 4.5km laps, but Gaze was one length ahead of Cooper.

As he crossed the line, Gaze lifted a finger to his lips in a silencing motion.

"There's good sportsmanship and there's not, and I felt like that wasn't there today - it's a bit of a shame really," Gaze said.

"That's racing, you can't get along with everyone.

"The good guys always win."

Cooper, who was five metres ahead of Gaze heading into the final lap, disputed Gaze's version of events, saying he was under no obligation to slow down.

As he was in front, he couldn't see why Gaze had stopped.

"I didn't know if he was feeling unwell or something had gone drastically wrong - it's not my job to sit around and wait at that point," Cooper said.

"I can't think of a situation where anyone would sit and wait.

"If you have a mechanical issue, that's rider error.

"It's just part of the game, you have to nurse your bike."

Nevertheless, the result means that New Zealand has again claimed a Games quinella after Gaze and Cooper's exploits in 2014 in Glasgow.

However, the order has been reversed on the Gold Coast.

Gaze has since apologised for his actions. 



Hatherly ultimately finished third, having moved aside to let Gaze through, while fellow Kiwi Ben Oliver finished a respectable fourth.

Gaze said he was pleased to claim the gold medal.

"I went in with one goal and one goal only and I'm honoured I could take it out," the 22-year-old and under-23 world champion said.

"I've also got racing on Saturday with the men's road race so I wanted to conserve best as I can and make up where I could."

- AAP

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