Joseph Cooper has had a new lease of life since joining his new Australian team, and it showed in the opening stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic.
Cooper won the time trial at Massey University yesterday in a time of 9min 10sec and continues his rich vein of form since he signed for the Australian Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers team.
"Ever since joining in late December, it's just launching me to another platform," he said. "I feel like a new man.
"I've left behind all the baggage from previous years. It's so motivating to feel new again and wanting to show the team colours on the podium is such a drive."
He was previously with New Zealand team Pure Black Racing, which have had financial difficulties in the past, but was recruited by Genesys, one of the secrets to his new-found form because they look after him very well.
"It's just all in the preparation really. [Having] key nutrition during the warmup and then just from having so much repetition during the warmup.
"As soon as you go down that start ramp you're just able to fly," he said.
Cooper also had a great time trial at nationals two weeks ago. He won, beating the New Zealand time by 15 seconds.
Yesterday, the Wellingtonian blitzed the field as only team-mate Campbell Flakemore got close to him in 9min 17sec, with Darren Lapthorne from Drapac Professional Cycling a further 12 seconds behind.
"When I finished I thought I was on a different planet I went so deep," Cooper said. "Definitely pretty happy with how it went. The preparation was 100 per cent what I'd normally do for an event like this."
The wind affected a lot of the field, with slower times than last year as only four riders managed a time under 9min 40sec and 20 were under the 10-minute mark.
It did not slow down Cooper who set a course record and he said it boiled down to who could battle through it better. The time trial sets up Genesys well for the rest of the tour with Cooper leading and Flakemore in second place, and the strong opening times will help them out as the tour moves to the hills.
"But anything can happen once you get out on the road. We've just to to remain level headed and get the job done basically."
They had high hopes after dominating the opening stage which also saw Flakemore, who won the time trial last year, wearing the leading under-23 rider's jersey.
The second stage today was to be 148km from Palmerston North to Apiti and back to Palmerston North via Pohangina Valley.
STAGE ONE RESULTS
1 Joseph Cooper (Genesys) 9:10, 2 Campbell Flakemore (Genesys) 9:17, 3 Darren Lapthorne (Drapac Professional Cycling) 9:29, 4 Malcolm Rudolph (Drapac) 9:34, 5 Joseph Lewis (GPM-Date#3) 9:40.
- Manawatu Standard
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