A mechanical failure put paid to Anton Cooper's chances of victory in the opening cross country round of the mountain bike series in Bluff yesterday.
The junior world champion suffered a mechanical problem on the third lap of the four-lap race, a problem which took five minutes to fix and cost him victory in the under-23 category.
Christchurch's Logan Horn ended beating Cooper by seven seconds, while the elite champion was Rotorua's Dirk Peters who was part of the New Zealand under-23 team in last year's world championships.
Horn said he had hoped to have enough to hold off Cooper and he acknowledged the importance of the mechanical problem.
"I was confident in the position I was in, but Anton would have beaten me if he didn't have the mechanical, and he pulled it back to a really close finish,'' Horn said.
"It was a really tough course. It was a long way to the top and big descent, but it's a really well built course and I enjoyed it.''
Cooper, who will ride fulltime on the UCI world cup for the Cannondale Factory Team this year, was relaxed about the defeat.
"That's the way racing is. I'm not too worried as this is part of the build up for me for the rest of the season.''
Peters won the five-lap elite men's race in convincing style with a time of 1:47:16. The 21-year-old made the most of favourable conditions to get an early lead on his opponents, including fellow Rotorua rider Carl Jones who took second in 1:50:36.
The elite women's race saw Kate Fluker (Queenstown) well ahead of the pack, finishing in a time of 1:40:49, almost nine minutes ahead of second place Erin Greene (Dunedin).
Mary Gray (Dunedin), a top-10 finisher in the world championships last year, took out the women's under-23 honours in 1:21:14.