New Zealand’s Anton Cooper has become just the second Kiwi male (third Kiwi) to secure a cross-country World Cup podium with a brilliant third placing in Germany today.
The 23 year old Trek Factory Racing rider produced a stunning performance to claim the bronze medal in the second round of the UCI World Cup in Albstadt behind Olympic and World champion Nino Schurter (SUI) and World cyclo-cross champion Mathew van der Poel (NED).
“Third place in Albstadt. I am so stoked to put the Kiwi jersey on an elite World Cup podium,” said Cooper after the race.
After climbing from the fourth row to ninth in the opening round of the World Cup last week in the Czech Republic, Cooper impressed today to beat off the likes of Frenchman Julian Absalon, the double Olympic and five-time World champion.
The only New Zealander’s to previously earn World Cup podiums is understood to be Rosara Joseph (2nd at Canberra World Cup 2008) and Kashi Leuchs more than a decade ago.
Compatriot Sam Gaze, the current under-23 world champion, did not finish.
North Canterbury’s Ben Oliver finished 20th in the under-23 race after his top-10 finish last week, to lie in 14th place on the World Cup standings.
He led the New Zealand Mountain Bike Performance Hub riders while national women’s champion Samara Sheppard enjoyed an encouraging 30th place in her return to World Cup competition after more than a year.
The Mountain Bike World Cup action moves back to downhill competition this weekend in Scotland and the following week in Austria with the next cross-country competition in Andorra in July.
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Albstadt (GER):
Elite men: Nini Schurter (SUI) 1:33.38, 1; Mathiew van der Poel (NED) 1:34.04, 2; Anton Cooper (NZL, Trek Factory) 1:34.27, 3. Also: Sam Gaze (NZL) dnf.
Elite women: Yana Belomoina (UKR) 1:38.25, 1; Maja Wloszczowska (POL) 1:38.41, 2; Jolanda Neff (SUI) 1:38.48, 3. Also: Samara Sheppard (NZL) 1:46.23, 30.
Under-23 men: Nadir Colledani (ITA) 1:24.06, George Egger (GER) at 35s, 2; Peter Disera (CAN) @50s, 3. Also NZers: Ben Oliver @ 3:58, 20; Jack Compton @ 4:40, 21; Craig Oliver @ 12:02, 82; Gareth Cannon 1 lap, 102; Paul Wright dnf.