Cooper completes winning warm-up at Oceania Mountain Bike Champs
Anton Cooper has ticked off the boxes ahead of his all-important 2019 UCI Mountain Bike international season.
Anton Cooper in action at the recent New Zealand Mountain Bike Championships in Rotorua. (Credit: Cameron McKenzie)
The Trek Factory Racing professional claimed his fourth straight Oceania mountain bike cross-country title at Bright, in the Alpine National Park in Victoria, Australia to match his national title last month in Rotorua.
Cooper will now return home to complete final preparations ahead the start of his UCI World Cup campaign in Germany next month.
Cooper rode the first of five laps with Subway National Performance Hub rider Ben Oliver, before clearing out to win comfortably in 1:43.46. Oliver, who will also head to Europe for the season, was a minute back in second ahead of Australian Cameron Ivory.
"It was good and I am really happy. I felt quite good actually, a lot better than at Nationals,” said Cooper. “I had a bit of a cold there, and it was one of the hardest races I have ever done probably. This one just felt fresh from the start and the second lap I felt really good and just able to keep a consistent pace the whole race.
"There is nothing really hard on the course but there is a lot of sections which could catch you out or you could puncture.
"Right now, I am where I want to be. I haven't focused specifically on these races (Nationals and Oceanias). It has been racing where I wanted to defend my titles and get the maximum points but the big goal is World Cups, which start in five weeks.”
Australia’s Rebecca McConnell (nee Henderson) claimed the women’s title in emphatic fashion with New Zealand’s Josie Wilcox, who had a mechanical issue at the national championships, the best of the Kiwis in third with defending champion Samara Sheppard fourth.
The other New Zealand triumph came in downhill where Rotorua’s Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, who is part of the Subway National Performance Hub, took out the junior downhill honours.
Best of the Kiwi elites was George Brannigan in fifth, with most of the leading professionals already in Europe with their first World Cup next weekend in Slovenia.
There was plenty to celebrate for Auckland’s Earnest family, with Sacha winning the under-15 female downhill, her brother Jake third in the under-15 males and father Dion second in the masters 4-5 category.
For details: www.cyclingnewzealand.nz