Sam Gaze defended his short-track MTB cross-country title at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and joined Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in retaining their rainbow jerseys in Scotland. Sam Gaze had to work hard in a thrilling race with Victor Koretzky challenging in a late sprint which meant the huge crowd roaring them home had an exciting photo finish. Gaze would just come out on top in the narrowest of margins with the Frenchman settling for silver.
In a race that came down to the final bend as eventual winner Gaze led the leading riders into a final sharp bend with Victor Koretzky, there was controversy behind as Tom Pidcock made an aggressive inside pass. Pidcock, going full gas, ran wide on the exit of the corner, appearing to make contact with Luca Schwarzbauer in the process, and the German came down, trailing down in the field after remounting to finish in 9th.
An angry Schwarzbauer spoke to gathered media after the race accusing Pidcock of intentionally cutting him off saying, "Tom crashed me out, he completely rode into me in that corner, I’m super disappointed for sure because a bronze medal would have been pretty safe."
Pidcock was also asked about the incident following the race adding, "I went for the inside and pushed him out onto the gravel, and then Luca crashed unfortunately". In a follow-up question, he was asked if there was contact he said, "Probably".
The race had started less controversially as the huge field that included former Road world champion Peter Sagan, was led out by Latvia’s Martins Blum, with recently crowned XCM World Champ, Da Silva Avancini on his back wheel. The tight, twisting track did not allow the big field many passing opportunities, and the group was quickly strung out after two laps.
On lap three, Gaze took the lead, joined by Koretzky and Schwarzbauer with the defending champion looking relaxed with the relentless high pace. As the laps ticked by there was little change in the order with Schwarzbauer now setting the pace, Da Silva Avancini had dropped out with what appeared to be a mechanical issue.
With only three laps left Schwarzbauer was looking over his shoulder at Gaze in second, Koretzky third, and Hatherly fourth. Blums also had attempted to ride clear on the main climb but the field remained close and on the final descent Gaze made his move followed by Koretzky, as he attempted to challenge the New Zealander. It would be Gaze that would hold on in a crowd-pleasing sprint and a photo finish. The drama continued as Pidcock and Schwarzbauer appeared to clash with the German slipping out in the final corner leaving him in the dirt.
Afterward, Sam Gaze spoke about his win, saying, "It was a very technical race. I tried to just ride my tempo, sort of almost trying to recover between climbs. To come into my best possible shape at the World Championships, I’m really happy about it and have my second world title in this event."