Illness struck New Zealand mountain bike star Anton Cooper, who finished near the rear of the field in his debut in the under-23 ranks at the opening round of the UCI World Cup in Germany today.

The 18 year old Junior World Champion suffered from a painful stomach upset and vomiting throughout the night but still decided to start in his first World Cup for his new Cannondale Factory Team at Albstadt.

However Cooper was well off the pace, struggling home in 85th place, a lap behind the winner Markus Schulte-Leunzum (GER).

“I spent the night with a terrible stomach ache and vomiting and got little sleep,” Cooper said. “I couldn’t keep any food down. I guess these things happen. I need time to let the body recover and I hope I can be right for the next round at Nove Mesto in a week.”

Rotorua’s Dirk Peters led the way for the Kiwis, finishing in a solid 22nd placing in his first World Cup in the under-23 ranks.

Peters produced a consistent display, reeling off laps in the low 14 minutes to finish just 3min 40sec down on the winner in a promising start to his European campaign.

Fellow Rotorua rider Sam Shaw was 71st while Auckland’s Adrian Retief did not finish.

Rotorua’s National Junior Champion Amber Johnston finished 20th in the junior women’s race.

Tomorrow Carl Jones will compete in the elite men, Samara Sheppard, Katie O’Neil and Kate Fluker in the elite women with Ben and Craig Oliver and Simon Lawson race in the junior men’s race.

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Round 1 Albstadt, Day 1:

Under-23 men: Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) 1:21.16, 1; Jens Schuermans (BEL) at 17sec, 2; Michiel van der Heijden (NED) at 33s, 3. Also NZers: Dirk Peters at 3:40, 22; Sam Shaw at 12:41, 71; Anton Cooper at 1 lap, 85; Adam Retief dnf.

Junior women: Greta Weithaler (ITA) 52:43, 1; Malene Degn (DEN) at 4sec, 2; Kate Courtney (USA) at 34s, 3. Also: Amber Johnston (NZL) at 6:17, 20.

Source: BikeNZ

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