8 Jan 2017

Cooper wins second road cycling title

5:38 pm on 8 January 2017

Wellington rider Joe Cooper is the national road cycling champion for the second time following his 14 second victory in Napier.

Joe Cooper crosses the finish line.

Joe Cooper crosses the finish line. Photo: Photosport

The 31-year-old outpaced a field that included the 2016 rider of the year, Dion Smith, time trial winner Jack Bauer, defending champion Jason Christie, Tour of Southland winner Aaron Gate and under-23 world mountain bike champion Sam Gaze.

Cooper, who won the national road title in Christchurch two years ago, made his move on the final climb up Napier Hill to take a 17 second into the final 9.5 kilometre flat lap.

He crossed the line 14 seconds clear of Christie.

"Today was about keeping calm and waiting for the right move. I didn't have any teammates so I was forced to save energy and then unload at a certain point and hope that it stuck," said Cooper.

"You had to give respect for the World Tour and Pro Continental guys and so if you are able to hang around their wheels long enough you land in the right moves and get an easy sit in the peloton which was a key to the strategy today.

"I knew they were riding for a bunch kick and I can't sprint my way out of a wet paper bag so I needed to be solo. I had to roll the dice. There's no way I wanted to wait for the bunch kick and come 10th."

Elite Men: Joseph Cooper (Isowhey Sports, Wellington) 4:14:58, 1; Jason Christie (Tasman) at 14 seconds, 2; Dion Smith (Auckland) at 18s, 3; Brad Evans (Drapac, Otago) same time, 4; Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sport, Auckland) at 19s, 5; Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors, Tasman) st, 6; Michael Torkler (Blindz Direct, Taranaki) at 20s, 7; Tom Scully (Cannondale-Drapac, Southland) at 25s, 8; James Oram (ONE Pro, Auckland) at 5:59, 9; Callum Gordon (Skoda Racing, Gisborne) at 8:07, 10.