Cooper sixth on return

New Zealand cross-country mountain bike champion Anton Cooper made a superb return to UCI World Cup racing with sixth place in the opening round in Germany.

The 26-year-old was pipped for the last place on the podium in a sprint finish with rising British star Tom Pidcock who climbed through the 155-strong field.

Cooper fell behind the lead pack on the opening two laps before pushing up to join the front group in an impressive performance.

He was in fifth place with the front group until the leaders piled on the pressure over the final two laps.

He finished only seven seconds behind third place after Frenchman Victor Koretzky out-sprinted Olympic champion Nino Schurter for the win.

Cooper’s goal was to finish in the top 10, so he achieved that and has gained confidence from his performance.

Fellow North Canterbury rider Ben Oliver, who started on the 10th row, impressed with a strong performance to push through to 37th place, while Commonwealth Games champion Sam Gaze finished 67th after starting a distant 117th in the packed field that were forced to walk up some of the single track with the congestion.

Next week’s second round of the World Cup series will be in Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic.


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