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Cooper ninth at mountainbike World Cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/05/2017

Leading Kiwi Anton Cooper has begun the mountainbike cross-country World Cup series with an impressive ninth placing in the opening event in the Czech Republic.

Cooper, 23, finished nearly three minutes behind Swiss world and Olympic champion Nino Schurter, who powered to a 21st career World Cup win.

Riding for his Trek Factory Racing XC team, Cooper was just over a minute outside a podium finish on a taxing course in Nove Mesto.

"I'd rate it as one of the top three results of my career thus far. I'm chuffed," former under-23 world champion Cooper said.

"It was a mega fight on the last few laps with drained legs but I managed to hold my own.

"It was awesome to be racing with some legends of the sport and to feel worthy of being there with my performance."

Cooper missed four months of training late last year after undergoing surgery to aid breathing problems which were causing chronic fatigue.

He showed he was returning to form with emphatic wins in the New Zealand and Oceania championships.

Kiwi Sam Gaze was one of 13 riders in the 129-strong field who failed to finish the course on Sunday.

Earlier, Ben Oliver was the best of four New Zealanders contesting the under-23 men's race, placing ninth.

The second round of the six-leg World Cup series is next week in Albstadt, Germany.

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