Christchurch mountain biker Anton Cooper wins gold and the rainbow jersey...
Total dominance - that was the story as Anton Cooper became the first New Zealand mountain biker to win a cross-country world title.
The Christchurch school boy blitzed a classy field at the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in Saalfelden in Austria on Saturday to take the gold medal and rainbow jersey in Junior Men.
With the BikeNZ National Mountain Bike Championships in Rotorua in February 2013 as part of the Rotorua Bike Festival there could be another rainbow jersey on the startline in one of New Zealand's top mountain bike destinations.
"We've seen them here before, especially at the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials Worlds," says Dave Donaldson who's been involved in the sport in the city for many years.
"But having Anton in town would be very special and exciting. He's a real talent."
Cooper is widely regarded as a prodigy among the international mountain bike community with a great future ahead of him.
He is already signed to a professional team, TREK World Racing.
After a close first lap he was in a class of one, reeling off consistent laps of just over 12 minutes, faster than most riders in the Under-23 race the previous day.
Cooper eventually won in 1.06.53, over two minutes ahead of Victor Koretsky of France in 2nd place.
"I am just stoked to finally become world champion," the 18-year-old said. "It is a dream come true. There's been a lot of hard work go into this.
New Zealand mountain bikers have won four world titles before this, all in downhill.
Vanessa Quin won in Elite Women and Scarlett Hagen in Junior Women in Les Gets in France in 2004. Then Cameron Cole took the Junior Mens gold medal in front of a home crowd in Rotorua exactly 6 years ago and Brook MacDonald won the same title in Canberra in 2009.
Cooper's win in cross-country is a real breakthrough in what is an Olympic discipline.