Christchurch mountain biker Anton Cooper continued on his winning way in the UCI World Cup in USA today.
The 17 year old cleared out to win the junior men's race in the penultimate round of the world cup in Windham in upstate New York.
He was again joined on the podium by exciting Rotorua teenager Amber Johnston who won her second bronze medal in as many weeks, just pipped for second place by a wheel in the junior women's race.
Riders had to withstand blazing conditions over 30C degrees today in Windham, rebuilding to host the World Cup after the effects of Hurricane Irene that ripped through the mountain town last year.
The junior race started two minutes behind the under-23 men, with Cooper pushing through four of the 50-plus under-23 field. He won in 1:08.12, matching the lap times of the best under-23 riders in another outstanding display.
The rest of the field responded to his challenge, with the second placed rider three minutes back, after they were more than six minutes behind the brilliant young kiwi at Mont Sainte Anne in Canada last weekend.
"It is crazy hot here today, one of the hotter races I've done. The humidity is high. I am doing nothing just standing around now and sweating all the time," Cooper said.
The Trek World Racing rider said he was held up for much of the race today as he caught up on the under- 23 riders, after the junior men had a stand alone race last weekend.
"I had to pass 30 or 40 under-23s to finish where I did. It is a different race if you don't have to pass under-023s, but to finish 10th or 11th in under-23 by the end is pretty good with the two minute gap. Overall I am pretty happy.
At the top of the downhill once you were there you were stuck behind them and the downhill is typically where I make up some time. You don't want to take unnecessary risks. I used it as active recovery and set myself to attack them on the next uphill."
Cooper returns to school at Christchurch Boys High next week before returning to Europe in August to prepare for September's world championships.
"The world championships are my big goal. I will head over to Europe four weeks before the worlds and will get some good training and racing in before the worlds. This trip I have definitely accomplished my goals. To win by the margins I have and to get the times compared with elite and under 23s, I am definitely ticking all the boxes at this stage."
Fellow New Zealand riders Nigel McDowell (Rotorua) and Tom Filmer (Nelson) both had strong performances to both finish in the top-11.
McDowell recovered from a poor start to power his way through impressively from near the back of the 30-strong field to grab ninth place while Filmer did extremely well to finish 11th after racing on a different frame after his bike was damaged in flight.
Johnston,17, produced a remarkable finish on the last half of the final lap to nearly snatch second placing from last week's World Cup winner Frederique Trudel (CAN).
The Oceania junior champion started conservatively in the extreme conditions to be fifth after the first lap and she was still fourth midway through the third and final lap before unleashing an outstanding burst to come within a wheel of the second placed Trudel at the finish.
"I went for it on the last lap. We had pretty much a sprint finish and it was pretty close but just missed out there," Johnston said.
In fact the young kiwi was 30 seconds faster than any other rider over the final half lap to cap off an excellent introduction to under-19 world cup racing as a first-year junior.
"I didn't really know what to expect with my first world cup. I just wanted to give it my all and my goal was to finish mid-field. So I am pretty happy.
"It was crazy here. It was so hot and so hard to get used to. It was hard to race in but I just had to focus on the race and keep cool as much as I could."
Johnston said she would discuss her future with her parents on return to New Zealand.
"I want to go to the world champs but it is up to mum and dad because they said it would be to do these two rounds only this year just for experience so we will now see what happens."
Dunedin's Samantha Hope enjoyed a solid performance to finish seventh.
It was a tougher day for last week's under-23 women's winner Samara Sheppard, who didn't have the legs in today's super-hot conditions, finishing sixth.
The Swiss-based Wheeler IXS rider started fast as she did last week in Canada but was unable to push on today, falling back each lap to finish sixth, well behind teammate Jolanda Neff (SUI) who won her second world cup of the year.
Sheppard is now in fourth place overall in the world cup series with one round remaining.
Meanwhile Wellington's Tom Bradshaw was the best of the under-23 men in 32nd place ahead of Brad Hudson (Christchurch) and Mathew Waghorn (Palmerston North) in the ultra-competitive category dominated by world class European riders.
Five New Zealanders are in action tomorrow in the final of the downhill.
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