The New Zealander, of Investec-Songo-Specialized, became the first international rider to win the Cycle Tour in over 10 years. He completed the race in 2:39:42, provisionally beating TEG Procycling’s Jason Oosthuizen and ProTouch’s Clint Hendricks into second and third respectively.
Dylan Girdlestone, who wore the yellow jersey until the last day of the Tour of Good Hope earlier this week, was the first to play his cards when he attacked from the leading group of 10 riders about 1.5km out, but his attack was neutralised with about 750m to go.
After catching his breath, the OfficeGuru leader was at it again as he opened up the sprint on the left of the peloton – which also included Byron Munton, Nicholas Dlamini, Stefan de Bod, Dan Craven, Jayde Julius and Calvin Beneke – with around 300m to go.
Beneke was to first to react, jumping onto his wheel with the rest of the group following suit. At this point, Gaze was biding his time in sixth wheel.
Former national U23 champion Oosthuizen hit the front within the final 200m with Gaze coming over the top at the last moment to seal a well-timed victory.
“That was a real honest race,” a relieved Gaze, who won back-to-back U23 cross-country mountain bike world titles in 2017 and 2018, said afterwards. “It was windy from the start and there was a number of guys really competing well.
“It was then pretty much cat and mouse all the way to the finish. But it was superb to have been a part of this event again. I get to do the Cape Epic with Songo and it was great to open the account for the guys.”
Last year’s champion, Nolan Hoffman, lost touch with the leaders through the Misty Cliffs area. However, an inspired chase in the company of Craven, Munton and Orion Craigue brought the three-time champion back into the fold before the start of Little Chappies, after which he got dispatched for good.