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NZ mountain bike riders head to altitude

Sam Gaze is one of the kiwi riders taking part in the UCI MTB Cross-Country World Cup in Switzerland
Sam Gaze is one of the New Zealand riders competing in the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup in Switzerland. PHOTO: CYCLING NZ

New Zealand’s cross-country mountain bikers are headed to the fifth round of the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup in Switzerland this weekend at over 1500m above sea level, for the first time.

Some leading riders will bypass the race for Paris Olympic Games preparation, most will compete with the resort region, also well known as a ski competition venue, to host the MTB world championships next year.


There are eight New Zealand riders competing, headed by Sam Gaze (Alpecin Deceuninck), currently ranked fifth in the world cup standings.

Fellow elite contender Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) has decided to bypass this weekend to reset for the world championships.

Cool conditions with the potential for inclement weather is forecast for what is a highly technical course with several manufactured features and some significantly steep features.

The Crans Montana area is no stranger to international mountain bike races having hosted the Enduro World Series in 2021 and 2022, and the Swiss National Championships in 2023.

The short-track racing is set to start overnight Friday with under-23 races, while the elite short track starts from 11pm NZT on Saturday followed by the under-23 men’s XCO race.

The women’s under-23 race is from 8pm NZT on Sunday followed by the elite women withelite men set to start at 12.30am on Monday NZT.

Gaze is the sole New Zealand elite men racing, with under-23 world champion Samara Maxwell (Decathlon Ford) to start in her second elite women’s race after an enterprising debut last week. She joins kiwis Mary Gray (Christchurch) and Mary-Ann Moller (Wellington) in elite female field.

Rose, the Trek Next Factory rider from Canterbury, up to 23rd in under-23 rankings, with compete along with Bailey Fredericksen (Whakatane) while the Christchurch pair of Maria Laurie and Amélie Mackay will start in under-23 women.

There's one further cross-country world cup round in Les Gets (FRA) in early July before the Paris Olympics, and the world championships in Andorra in August, with the final two rounds in North America finishing in early October.


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