Anton Cooper produced his best performance of the year to move into the world’s top-10 after the latest round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Andorra.
The Trek Factory professional powered home over the second half of the gruelling seven lap race to improve from 19th to seventh, pipped in a sprint finish for sixth in arguably the toughest race of the season, staged at high altitude in Vallnord.
Cooper was the fastest rider in the field over the second half of the race, which is reward for the hard work over the summer months training near Wanaka to improve his abilities at altitude.
The result moves him to ninth overall on the World Cup standings.
Cooper was caught on the outside in a furious start in the dust, dropping back to 19th after the first lap, moving to 14th mid-race and 1min 28sec behind the leaders. He then produced a serious of outstanding laps to close to seventh at the finish, just 53 seconds from winner Nino Schurter, with the Olympic and world champion grabbing his first victory of the season.
Schurter edged out his fellow Swiss rider Mathias Flueckiger for the win with Brazilian Henrique Avacini third.
The Subway Performance Hub rider, Ben Oliver was 64th and Sam Gaze, in his first competition after injury, was 83rd.
The riders head to another altitude race this weekend at Les Gets in the French Alps, with both cross-country and downhill in action.
Image credit: Ross Bell Photography