New Zealand rider Anton Cooper had to be content with 31st placing in the elite men’s cross-country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championship in Switzerland. Cooper made a bold start off the front row to go with multi World Champion Nino Schurter (SUI) for the lightning-fast opening lap in front of 40,000 fans jammed on to the course in the Swiss mountain resort of Lenzerheide.
The Kiwi, part of the Altherm New Zealand elite team, buttoned off the pace in the latter part of the first of eight laps to fall back to join the chasing pack. But from that point it proved a day when the body would not match the intention, and Cooper dropped away, unable to make his usual late charge in the race.
Cooper said that it was usual for him to take a few laps to find his racing legs when racing at altitude.
— Anton Cooper (@antonmtb) September 8, 2018
“I knew I had to back off from that start pace after what was a really good start. Usually after a couple of laps backing off I am able to come strong again but it just didn’t happen today.”
He faded back to 35th although he made ground on the final lap when he was able to match the leaders’ pace, to climb to 31st.
“It is not where I was hoping or dreaming of but life goes on and hopefully I can turn things around.”
The Trek Factory rider said he was buoyed by the amount of support. “I was blown away by the number of Kiwis shouting out their support. It was great.”
Cooper has two more races in Europe to complete his season before returning to New Zealand “to hit the reset button.”
Swiss superstar Schurter burnt off all opposition to win his seventh rainbow jersey and cement his place as the most successful male cross-country mountain bike rider.
Italian Gerhard Kerschbaumer finished second, holding on to Schurter until the final lap, with Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, a world champion in cyclo-cross and junior world champion road racer, finishing third.
Elite men cross-country: Nino Schurter (SUI) 1:29:21, 1; Gerhard Kerschbaumer (ITA) at 11 secs, 2; Mathieu van der Poel (NED) at 1:14, 3. Also: Anton Cooper (NZL) at 5:51, 31.