New Zealand mountain bike rider Sam Gaze has stunned the competition to claim the opening round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season.

The 22-year-old defeated world champion and top seed rider Nino Schurter to take the top spot in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Gaze finished with a time of 1hr 30min 14sec with fellow Kiwi Anton Cooper finishing in sixth in a field of 99 riders.

Gaze and Cooper finished the first lap of seven in a promising position - second and third place respectively - with Gaze able to maintain his form until the end.

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It was a tough fought battle between Gaze and the former champion Schurter who top and tailed between first and second throughout the race.

Gaze showed great form in the wider sections of the course and outsmarted Schurter to beat out his Swiss rival.

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Finishing Times:

1. Sam Gaze (New Zealand) 1:30:14
2. Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 1:30:15
3. Maxime Marotte (France) 1:30:16
4. Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) 1:31:24
5. Titouan Carod (France) 1:31:41
6. Anton Cooper (New Zealand) 1:32:16
7. Florian Vogel (Switzerland) 1:32:28
8. Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 1:32:36
9. Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland) 1:32:37
10. Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 1:32:46