Cooper, Macdonald lead mountain bike success
New Zealand mountain bikers celebrated their most successful UCI World Cup at Mont Sainte Anne in Canada this weekend. Outstanding Christchurch teenager Anton Cooper scored a runaway victory in the junior men's crosscountry in a dominant performance, to add to the two medals earned by Samara Sheppard and Amber Johnston in the under-23 and junior women respectively yesterday.
The 2009 junior world champion Brook Macdonald (Napier) roared down the rocky course to finish sixth in the downhill where four kiwi riders finished in the top 11.
It is the first time kiwi riders have earned three medals in crosscountry in the same world cup competition while New Zealand now has five riders in the top-15 on world cup standings in downhill, the most of any nation.
Seventeen year old Cooper, who rides for Trek World Racing, was in a class of his own in the junior men's competition. He was a minute ahead after the start loop, three minutes clear after lap one and he eventually won the 20.57km race in 1:09.55, more than six minutes clear of second placed Marc-Antoine Nadon (CAN) and Keegan Swenson (USA).
On lap times, Cooper compared with those inside the top 15 times in the elite race, and he remains unbeaten after two rounds this year.
"We were looking, rather than the junior field, my manager was holding up lap times with the elites. It was pretty interesting - the course with the rain was hard to know who had the faster track but we will be able to compare the times again next week. But the times were good and it is all positive stuff," Cooper said.
It was the first world cup action for the world junior silver medallist since his victory in South Africa in March.
"The thing was not knowing what to expect in comparison with the other riders, so it is good to turn up here and do this one and get a good judgement of where I am at before turning up for worlds. I was feeling confident because I had lab testing and the results indicated I was in pretty good form. I knew I had the strength so it was a matter of going out there and doing it."
He was pleased with the performance given he had come out of winter conditions in Christchurch.
"It's been so cold with snow and ice at home. It's been tricky in the last two weeks so to get over here where it is so hot was good. The first couple of days were a bit of a shock, but I am getting in to it now and pretty happy with my form."
In their first world cup race, fellow kiwis Nigel McDowell (Rotorua) worked his way up to eighth with Nelson's Tom Filmer 16th.
Junior crosscountry (20.57km): Anton Cooper (NZL, Trek World Racing) 1:09.55, 1; Marc-Antoine Nadon (CAN) 1:16.15, 2; Keegan Swenson (USA) 1:16.41, 3. Also other New Zealanders: Nigel McDowell 1:18.42, 8; Tim Filmer 1:21.54, 16.