New Zealand's Anton Cooper has won the junior men's cross-country title at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Austria.
Cooper beat home defending champion Victor Koretsky of France in a time of 1:06.53, with the Frenchman second in 1:09.10 and his compatriot Titouan Carod third in 1:09.27.
Christchurch-based Cooper, who turned 18 last month, was in a class of his own. After a close first lap with Koretsky, the New Zealander piled on the pressure, reeling off consistent laps of just over 12 minutes, faster than most of the riders in the under-23 race yesterday.
"I am just so stoked to finally become the world champion," Cooper said. "It is a dream come true. There's been a lot of hard work go into this. This is amazing.
"I got a really good start and was first into the single track but got passed by a couple of French guys. I managed to get passed them on lap two and managed to open up a gap from there.
"I just kept my focus right until the end and only celebrated down that finish straight. I am just so stoked."
Cooper was runner-up in his world championship debut to Koretsky last year but his win means he has completed an unbeaten season after claiming all three world cup races that he contested this year, as well as today's world championship.
Team-mate Nigel McDowell (Rotorua) started strongly to be sixth after the opening loop although faded back to finish 29th while Sam Gaze (Cambridge) placed 46th. Fellow Kiwi Tom Filmer (Nelson) did not start after a head knock in a crash during practice.
Meanwhile both Rosara Joseph and Karen Hanlen finished in the top half of the field in 22nd and 24th places respectively in the elite women's race.
Tauranga's Vanessa Quin is the only Kiwi mountain biker to win an elite title, claiming the women's downhill title in 2004.
New Zealand downhill riders have also won three junior world championships, with Scarlett Hagen in 2004 in France, Cameron Cole in 2006 at Rotorua and Brook MacDonald in 2009 at Canberra.
- © Fairfax NZ News