Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze brought cheers from their New Zealand supporters when they won gold and silver in the men’s mountain bike cross-country race today.
Cooper beat Gaze by three seconds in a great finish. It was New Zealand’s first gold-silver scoop of the Commonwealth Games.
Cooper, who turns 20 next month, was sensationally good. He was never out of the top three and when he came through over the final few kilometres of the testing Cathkin Braes course he was too strong for all challengers.
The 20-year-old Cantabrian won in 1h 38min 26s, just three seconds ahead of countryman Gaze.
Gaze, only 18, was also always near the front and rode well near the end to hold out Australian Daniel McConnell, the pre-race favourite, for the silver medal.
There were 33 starters, including some of the big names of world mountain biking.
Cooper, a former junior world champion, said he and Gaze had not worked together during the race.
“I knew I had to catch him off guard,” Cooper said. “I like to have a lead. You get bloody nervous when there's four riders [in the front bunch]."
He said it was great to share the podium with a Kiwi.
Cooper said it was not an easy race. “Saying that I felt quite fresh through the whole race. I knew that I had fresh legs. I felt like I could go another lap.
"I conserved energy by drafting. It was pretty bloody hard coming down to the last lap, but I pushed right through to the finish line.
"I tried to pull away but they didn't let me. They had a good punch in them."
In the women’s race, New Zealanders Karen Hanlen and Kate Fluker were sixth and eighth in a field of 21.
The race was won by Canadian Catharine Pendrel in 1h 39min 29s. Hanlen recorded 1h 43min 31s and Fluker 1h 44min 56s.