Cooper captures USSA mountain-bike title | SASCOC - SASCOC

Cooper captures USSA mountain-bike title

Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Timo Cooper showed his class when he won the national student mountain biking title at the Bestmed USSA cycling championships in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

Cooper, who rides professionally for Team Bridge, demonstrated his technical skills on an undulating 50-kilometre cross-country circuit at Hopewell Trails just outside the city.

He crossed the line first in 1hr 36min 08sec, 39 seconds clear of the University of Cape Town’s Greig Knox, while CPUT team-mate Adriaan Louw overcame mechanical problems to take third in 1:42:10.

ÔÇ£I had a lucky day. It was a proper cross-country course, with loads of technical descents, climbs and good single track,ÔÇØ said Cooper, who podiumed with German partner Nico Pfitzenmaier in the recent RE:CM Knysna 200 stage race. ÔÇ£I’m targeting both the mountain bike and road events, so this is a good start.ÔÇØ

According to Cooper, the race started at a conservative pace on the 7km flat stretch that linked the start/finish area to the 5km loop, which the riders had to do eight times. ÔÇ£It was the type of course where you knew that if you went into the lap first, you’d come out first,ÔÇØ said Cooper.

Stellenbosch University’s Dominic Calitz was the first to show intent when he attempted a breakaway on the first technical downhill, but a puncture put paid to his efforts.

Former Wines2Whales winner Louw then set a high tempo on the ensuing climb and, with only Cooper able to follow, the CPUT riders opened up a gap on the chasers. ÔÇ£We got away and rode nicely together,ÔÇØ said Cooper. ÔÇ£On the downhill he’d drop me and then I’d ride hard to catch him again on the climb.ÔÇØ

The two drove the pace upfront on the first three laps until disaster struck on the penultimate loop. ÔÇ£On the fourth lap Adriaan punctured and from then on I just rode on my own to the finish.ÔÇØ

The third-year sports management student said he had ridden hard enough to win but conservatively enough to sustain his energy levels for the three-day road tour. ÔÇ£I did enough to keep my lead because there is still a week of hard racing to come.ÔÇØ

The women’s event over 35km was won by Emily Clarke of UCT in a time of 1:34:08. She was followed home by Stellenbosch University’s Anja van Zyl in 1:36:11, with Nina Sender rounding out the podium for UCT in 1:39:01.

The five-stage road tour was scheduled for Wednesday morning with an 84.4km ride followed by followed by a 10km time-trial later in the day.