Cambridge professional Sam Gaze has won the silver medal in the eliminator final to kick-start the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Andorra today.
The 19 year old, the youngest in the competition, came from last in the four-man final to snatch the silver medal in the quick-fire competition around a 900m course.
Gaze, known for his blistering pace, has had success in this form of the sport before, winning an elite World Cup last year in Cairns.
He got to the front to win his heat, quarter-final and semifinal after controlling the races from the front.
However the Specialized Factory Team rider was beaten to the first corner in the final, then pushed back to last before mounting a sprint up the final climb to all-but nab the winner Daniel Federspiel from Austria.
A 30-strong New Zealand team is competing at altitude in Andorra, the small principality perched between at altitude in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain.
Tomorrow is the traditional warm-up for the cross-country races with a team relay ahead of the junior cross-country on Thursday (local time), under-23 cross-country featuring Gaze and fellow Commonwealth Games medallist Anton Cooper on Friday, and the elite women with Queenstown’s Kate Fluker and elite men on Saturday.
Sunday gives way to the spectacular downhill racing for junior and elite divisions, with the elite cross-country and downhill races live on Sky Television.
Results, Men Cross-Country Eliminator
Final: Daniel Federspiel (AUT) 1, Sam Gaze (NZL) 2, Simon Gegenheimer (GER) 3.
Semifinal 1: Gegenheimer 1, Federspiel 2, Fabrice Mels (BEL) 3. Semifinal 2: Gaze 1, Kevin Miquel (FRA) 2, Catriel Soto (ARG) 3.
The New Zealand team is: Cross-country, men: Under 23: Sam Gaze (Specialized, Cambridge), Anton Cooper (Cannondale Factory Team, North Canterbury), Ben Oliver (North Canterbury), Jack Compton (Wellington), Craig Oliver (North Canterbury).
Under 19: Paul Wright (Wanaka), Nathan Johnston (Rotorua), Harrison Mudgway (Tauranga). Women, elite: Karen Hanlen (Whakatane), Kate Fluker (Queenstown). Under-19: Jemma Manchester (Auckland), Shannon Hope (Dunedin).
Downhill, men: Elite: George Brannigan (Trek World Racing, Hawkes Bay), Sam Blenkinsop (Norco Factory Team, Wanganui), Brook MacDonald (Trek World Racing, Hawkes Bay), Wyn Masters (Team Bulls, New Plymouth), Matt Walker (Rotorua), Rupert Chapman (Christchurch), Edward Masters (New Plymouth).
Junior: Connor Sandri (Oamaru), Jack Humphries (Palmerston North), Cole Lucas (Hamilton), Matt Lawton (Queenstown), Gareth Burgess (Rakaia), Mathew Gillan (Queenstown), Kim Newton (Nelson).
Women, elite: Alana Columb (Queenstown), Sophie Tyas (Auckland), Veronique Sandler (Nelson), Amanda Monk (Whakatane).