National Road champion Joe Cooper soloed off the front of the peloton to win the final stage of the Tour of Hainan in China yesterday.

It was his first victory at UCI HC level, adding to his two recent stage wins at the Tour of China and has commentators asking why the 31-year-old Welingtonian isn't riding for a World Tour team.

Team director and co-owner of Cooper's current team IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness, Andrew Christie-Johnston, told Eurosport the World Tour was missing out on Cooper.

"It's the most frustrating thing for me," said Christie-Johnston, "I've had Joe for a while now and he came close to the WorldTour a few years ago. But whether or not he is physically riding for a team at the highest level or not, he is 100 percent WorldTour strong."

Advertisement

Christie-Johnston has had a hand in advancing the careers of World Tour riders Richie Porte, Nathan Haas, Campbell Flakemore and new Greenedge recruit Jack Haig - but Cooper's career was derailed in 2014 when he broke a pelvis during an Australian National Road Series race, where he has twice been champion.

"This is the icing on my whole season," Cooper said after yesterday's race.

"To win an HC race in the New Zealand champs jersey, that's just such a special thing for me. I've worked hard all year and this being my best season to date, hopefully I'm not done yet."

In the stage, Cooper attacked with about 14km to go and held off the bunch behind to take victory.

Italy's Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina) held on for a narrow overall victory at the Tour of Hainan. The 24-year-old concluding the nine-stage Chinese race three seconds clear of Benjamin Prades (UKYO) and five seconds up on Emils Liepins (Delko Marseille Provence KTM).