Haven't we seen this movie before? A New Zealand cyclist forced to apologise for seemingly spiteful behavior after winning a bike race?
Sam Gaze's actions yesterday recall Jason Christie's controversial obscene gesture to the cyclists behind him as he crossed the line to win the national road championship in January.
Christie was roundly criticised by the public and other professional cyclists and later issued a statement saying the image of him holding two single fingers in the air had been misinterpreted, and that he had in fact thanked his fellow competitors for their rides.
In a twist of fate, Gaze and Christie will line up together for New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games road race on the Gold Coast tomorrow.
Even more remarkably, Christie had not been selected for the New Zealand squad, despite being the national champion. He lost an appeal against his non-selection and was only called up three weeks ago when Alex Frame was forced to remain in Europe by his professional team, Trek-Segafredo.
Unlike the acknowledged strategy of riding as an individual in mountain biking, on the road the New Zealand squad is expected to ride as a team in support of a single potential winner – in this case road captain Jack Bauer.
There will be no room for selfish riding that could cost New Zealand a medal.
Meanwhile, Sam Gaze has been celebrated and criticised by his Facebook followers after posting an apology for criticising fellow Kiwi Anton Cooper's tactics in the immediate aftermath of yesterday's race.
"Good on ya, apologies are never easy," wrote Sarah Kirby. "What a loser pulling the finger and giving the elbow," wrote Jordan Mason.
Summing up the majority of the 140-plus comments, Jan Roberts wrote: "Congrats, was exciting to watch our Kiwis in action. You, Anton and young Ben did us all proud. Little disappointed to see the discontentment of the team in the end … but good you've acknowledged your actions and time to move forward."
Anton Cooper, on the other hand, received nothing but praise from his thousands of Facebook followers. "Congratulations Anton, you are a true sportsman and fantastic role model, I think the real winner took home the silver," wrote Sarah Sharp.
The men's road race starts at 2:30pm NZT tomorrow, following the women's event from 9:45am NZT.
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