Antagonism has overshadowed New Zealand's gold-silver finish in the men's mountain bike race at the Commonwealth Games.

Sam Gaze and Anton Cooper have completed a repeat one-two finish on the Gold Coast, reversing the order from Glasgow.

Gaze delivered a blistering denouement after a puncture, as Cooper attempted to defend his title.

Gaze led into the final lap, but decided to pull off to get air pumped into his back tyre. He thanked his mechanic for blasting a CO2 cannister into the valve in the hope it would last until the end.


"He bombed it full of 40psi [of pressure]. It's a lot easier to hold the air in at high rather than low pressure."

However, the win came with rancour.

The race re-ignited the pair's intense rivalry which extended back to Glasgow. Gaze put his forefinger to his lips as he crossed the finish line and stood expressionless atop the dais.

"There's good sportsmanship and there's not, and I felt like that wasn't there today," Gaze said of Cooper's decision to keep racing after the puncture.

"It's a bit of a shame really. I have the utmost respect for the guy [Cooper], even with that move and before the finish. That's racing, you can't get along with everyone. The good guys always win."

Cooper pounced on the advantage. He said mountain biking doesn't maintain the road cycling tradition where riders wait for a problem to be resolved before resuming.

"No, there's nothing like that," he 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'd be the same as making a poor line choice out there. It's just part of the game, you have to nurse your bike."

Cooper said the sprint at the top was crucial, before the last downhill.

"That was kind of the finish line and he managed to sneak around me there. I didn't close the door early enough. I couldn't have drifted any harder across because that wouldn't have been fair."

A lingering sore throat also weighed on Cooper's mind.

"Sam pushed the pace on the first lap, if he had done it one more lap - if he'd known I wasn't great - he would've dropped me.

"I couldn't handle the intensity so I had to diesel it. Tactically, I raced the best race I could."

Shortly after the incident, Gaze was ushered through by second-placed South African Alan Hatherly to continue his duel.

He came from more than 20 seconds back to regather the lead in an elbow-to-elbow passing manoeuvre, creating one of the Games' most thrilling moments.

"I had the motivation from four years ago where I felt a bit robbed," Gaze said. "Today I wasn't accepting anything other than a win.

"I've built the sort of perseverance to handle something like that [a flat tyre] over the past 12 months. If it had happened before then, my race would've been done."

New Zealand's Samuel Gaze with the gold medal shakes hands with Anton Cooper after the medal ceremony. Photo / Photosport
New Zealand's Samuel Gaze with the gold medal shakes hands with Anton Cooper after the medal ceremony. Photo / Photosport

Gaze carried confidence into the event after becoming the first New Zealander to win an elite UCI World Cup title in Stellenbosch, South Africa, last month. He also gained the Rio Olympic spot, but illness saw him finish 37th out of 49 riders.

Cooper said he couldn't think of anything he would've done to change the Gold Coast result.

"I might look back later and think I could've done something. Even on the last lap I don't know what happened to Sam, I saw he stopped. When he came through the tyre looked fine and it's not my job to sit around and ask. I kept on riding.

"I thought at that point it was me and the South African heading up the hill, so I attacked, then I saw Sam 15-20m behind."

Earlier, the pair worked alongside Hatherly to build a lock on the podium.

Gaze later apologised for his actions via a carefully-worded statement.

"I'm a competitive guy and when I had that issue with my bike I thought my dream was over. I reacted badly and want to apologise for my words and my actions. I am really embarrassed for how I acted and how the impact of how special of a day it was for New Zealand Cycling was tainted by my actions.

I respect Anton and his ability to race hard and fast and I regret the way that I spoke right after the race. He is an incredible rider and together we put on a really exciting race today. I was proud that we could finish one-two again like we did in Glasgow and am grateful for the talent we are growing in New Zealand.

"I have caught up with Anton and apologised personally, but I wanted to let the New Zealand team here on the Gold Coast and the public know that I acted in the heat of the moment and will work on making sure this type of action doesn't happen again. Thanks for everyone's support. I am sorry that my actions have affected the public's view of how really special these Games have been."

Hey Everyone, thank you for todayโ€™s support. I am happy to have won the race but am gravely disappointed with my...

Posted by Sam Gaze on Thursday, 12 April 2018

Fellow Kiwi Ben Oliver was fourth in the race.

Samara Sheppard finished ninth in the women's event.

According to, fans and experts picked up on the "civil war", with Australian cyclist and Channel 7 commentator Scott McGrory calling it "awkward".

"There will not be happy beers for the Kiwi club tonight, not too happy whatsoever," McGrory said. "There's no love lost between them here.

"No hugs between the Kiwis. Gold and silver medals but certainly no big embracing hugs.

"They are fired up, the New Zealanders."

"There was no love lost whatsoever between the men who finished three seconds apart four years ago and the clock not actually separating them here," Channel 7's Basil Zempilas added.

"This is the incident that has got the New Zealanders up and about, you saw the arm come out there, that was interesting from Samuel Gaze."

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