Teenage mountain bike sensation Anton Cooper has claimed a silver medal in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Switzerland. The North Canterbury rider, in his first year in the under-19 junior ranks, produced a remarkable final lap to grab second place, pipping Costa Rica’s Andrey Fonseca just before the finish chute for the silver medal.
It follows an outstanding run of form in his first international racing experience, winning two World Cup titles in the Czech Republic and Italy in the lead-up to the World Championships in Champery.
The Christchurch Boys High School student, who turned 17 last month, found himself boxed in and back in 13th place after a long opening loop. He gradually fought his way to eighth after the next lap, then up to sixth before unleashing a huge effort over the last lap, out-sprinting Fonseca for second.
He was the fastest rider on the course over the final lap, finishing 1m 18s down on runaway winner Victor Koretzky (FRA) who was beaten by the young Kiwi at the World Cup in the Czech Republic last month.
“Overall I am proud of what I have achieved. It didn’t pan out exactly as I wanted. I got swamped on the long opening lap and ended up off my bike walking into the first singletrack,” Cooper said. “But I fought my way back and I am proud of that.
“It’s not the rainbow jersey I was hoping for but I have learned so much for next year, probably more in coming second that I would have if I had won. The racing here is so different and harder than I have experienced in New Zealand and Australia.”
Junior Boys, UCI Mountain Bike World Championship:
1. Victor Koretzky (FRA) 1:07.18
2. Anton Cooper (NZL) 1:08.36
3. Andey Fonseca (CRC) 1:08.37
Also New Zealanders:
27. Mathew Waghorn 1:14.34
31. Tom Bradshaw 1:15.26
39. Nigel McDowell 1:16.35