January 19th, 2012

Anton Cooper Takes His First Victory Of The Year

This past weekend saw the opening round of the New Zealand National XC Series in Dunedin, and the muddy conditions provided plenty of challenges for Oceania's best riders. Below are Anton's own words about the weekend's event.

This was to be my first ever race in Trek World Racing colors and I was looking for a good solid first up performance to kick start my season in style. The course was brutal, and had a rather 'old school' feel to it; one huge steep climb followed by an epic, single track descent.

The rain had poured down the few days prior to the race making the climb virtually unrideable during practice and the descent really treacherous. The course got a break from the rain the night before and when it came time to race the climb was almost completely dry.

I decided to race on the Trek Elite 9.9 as Iíd only brought spare mud tires for the 26inch wheels with me due to the car being absolutely jammed packed with the whole familyís gear. I chose to run with the XR3 team issue tires as they have a wide tread spacing for all important mud clearance and aggressive side knobs which were crucial for the greasy off camber sections on single track descent and the mud bog towards the latter part of the course.

The juniors were lucky to be able to start just behind the Elite and Under 23 riders on the same gun. The Elite field featured a couple of Australia's top riders, Chris Jongewaard and Paul van der Ploeg and also New Zealandís top Elites and Under 23's. I managed to muscle my way to the front through the start loop and soon found myself out front with Carl Jones, the NZ Elite National Champion who put in an early attack. I pulled away over the second half of the first lap and continued to extend my overall and junior lead over the next four laps, eventually crossing the line 8mins 11secs ahead off the second junior and 2mins 30secs ahead of the first Elite who had to continue for one more lap. I was very pleased with how everything panned out on the day and that I suffered no mechanicals over the 5 muddy laps. It was great way to start the season and a huge boost of confidence heading into the next national round this weekend in my home town of Christchurch, and the National Championships on the 27th of January.

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