Gaze and Schurter regularly exchanged the lead throughout the seven 4.4km-lap race at the Coetzenburg grounds.
Heading into the final lap, Gaze managed to get his nose in front and, despite a string of attacks from Schurter, found enough left in the tank to win it in a sprint finish.
“I am still struggling to get to grips with the win; it is not every day something like this happens,” Gaze told In the Bunch. “The race was very tactical. Nino was strong throughout and kept pushing the pace.
“I had to jerk my way through a lot of sections in the course and I knew with about a lap and a half to go that I could try to hold on and make a difference in the final [lap]. I am glad I did,” he said.
Good preparation had laid the groundwork for his success. “Preparation for the last three months has been perfect. I expect a lot of myself most of the time and I am really happy with how it turned out,” Gaze said.
“I had to knuckle down with what I wanted to do. It was a crazy day; to get my first elite men’s world cup title.”
The Specialized rider was humbled by the backing he received at the event. “Cheers to everyone for the support,” he said.
“It was pretty humbling to see the amount of following I have, especially in a town [Stellenbosch] so heavily involved with Specialized.”
After winning the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge two weekends ago and the World Cup event on Saturday, victory there would have been his third in the space of a week.
Gaze said he would remain in South Africa for another two-and-a-half weeks and thereafter would set his sights on preparing for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.