Nicole Cooke in Form for Title Defence

Nicole Cooke in Form for Title Defence


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Nicole Cooke in Fine Form for Title Defence

Story posted June 15, 2010; by Larry Hickmott | Event June 27

With the British Road Race Championships at Pendle only a few weeks away, Olympic Women’s Road Race champion Nicole Cooke is looking in good shape to defend her title for the 11th time. The ten time British champion, won a stage of the UCI 2.1 ranked stage race, the Iurreta-Emakumeen Bira, beating many a world champion in the process.

Nicole Cooke proudly wearing the British champions jersey for the 10th year and with the rainbow stripes on the sleeve for her Worlds victory in 2008. Nicole is also the Olympic champion! Photo: © CJ Farquharson (Photosport International)

The event is a well established race on the Women’s Calendar and held in the Basque country with it’s challenging terrain. The rain every day added to the challenges the women faced and the event was certainly very tough says Cooke. On stage 1, in a big bunch kick, Nicole stayed safe and didn’t contest the sprint knowing the race was going to open up on the following stages.

This it did on stage 2 but Nicole had some bad luck as she explained. “I started fairly solidly and was climbing well with the leaders when I got caught up behind a crash. I then had to chase quite hard over two big climbs to get back to the leading group. Then, when Judith Arndt and Claudia Hausler attacked, I didn’t have a lot left to go with them and they finished 1-2 on the stage. That was a little bit disappointing.

Nicole though is known for her strong mindset and the next day showed she wasn’t giving up without a fight. The time trial was the first of two stages on that day and Nicole went out and gave it everything and blew her rivals away. “After winning the Time Trial, I was really pleased and excited by the victory. The win finally backs up all the training and everything I have been doing this year.

It was really satisfying to win the time trial because it was getting towards the end of the stage race with riders fighting for seconds for the general classification and to beat riders like Arndt, Hausler, Vos, and Johansson has given me a lot of confidence and shows that I’m on the right track with my training.

A fifth place in the sprint on stage 3b in the afternoon after her TT victory left Nicole in 5th place overall and the Welsh rider was ready to challenge for more stage and overall honours. More bad luck unfortunately was round the corner, literally, after she crashed heavily on a mountain descent in the rain.

I came down very hard on a wet corner on a descent and really hurt my ankle and elbow and was in quite a bit of shock at the time. It was the right thing to do to pull out even though it was really disappointing as I really wanted to be in there and challenging for another stage and the overall.

Right: Nicole Cooke in the jersey she has made her own for the last decade. Photo: © CJ Farquharson (Photosport International)

Nicole in 2010 is riding for the Great Britain team and says that she is in good hands with the staff helping her get over the crash and ready for her next race in Italy.

We’re all together here as a team and that’s a good thing so we call all be looked after prior to our race in Italy.” With Nicole and the riders is experienced Academy coach Simon Cope as well as the long time GB mechanic Ernie Feargrieve and carer Luc de Wilde. Paul Manning, the women’s endurance coach, has also been with the team and Nicole says it’s never felt better to be part of GB as it does now.

Despite all the crashes to the riders, Nicole says the spirits in the camp are high and they can still laugh it off as a group and morale is good. The team have lost the services of Nikki Harris who was taken out by another rider in the World Cup race in Spain and is injured, while Emma Trott too has fallen again after recovering from her injuries in the accident in Belgium when the GB girls were hit by car. Talking about her crash on Sunday, Nicole explained the girls were having a good laugh at the fact both British champions, her and junior Laura Trott, both fell off on Sunday. Both are thankfully all okay!

With Nicole in the GB team is Emma Trott, Lucy Martin, Catherine Williamson, and Katie Colclough and their next race for GB is Giro del Trentino where Nicole will go into the race wearing number 1. It will be her final race before the British Championships and one she is looking forward to after winning it last year.  The event is held in the Dolomites area of Italy and so is quite tough.

I am looking forward too going back to this race and it should set me up well for the national championships” Nicole explained.

Her form has steadily been getting better despite a lack of racing. With the awful crash to the GB girls in Belgium disrupting their race programme, Nicole, as ever, has got on with her training and came into the Basque event in good form. “I missed out on the Tour de l'Aude Cycliste Féminin race and I used that as an opportunity to stay in Lugano and train really solidly for three weeks. I really worked on my climbing and the other specific things that I do in my training. That went very well and I came into these races this month with quite a lot of confidence that things were going well and I was feeling strong.

Looking back at the Spring campaign, I knew I was very close to the win on a lot of races and so was really pleased with my podium at the Fleche Wallonne. That gave me a lot of confidence that I am up there with the World’s best riders. It was good to know that I can continue to build on that as the season progresses and we head towards the World Championships. Having so many British riders challenging for wins in UCI races now definitely bodes well for the end of the year.

Ride the circuit and check out the 7 mile course

Because of that strength in-depth now at international level, this year, more than any other, looks like being the toughest title defence for Nicole of any that have gone before. Having won ten titles already, the Olympic and former World Champion is quite relaxed about it though. “It is great to have a challenging race coming up and it’s really good for Women’s cycling in Britain that we have so many riders out there now in the UCI races and getting such great results.

I am looking forward to it being a hilly course after all the training I have done having gone so well. The racing now is helping me sharpen up so I feel I’ll be going there in good form for the championships.

Last year it was Emma Pooley and Lizzie Armitstead that were challenging Nicole but this year, Pooley has moved on to be one of the big stars of the Women’s peloton for her Cervelo team and has had great support also from the likes of Sharon Laws and Lizzie Armitstead. Those riders are expected to again be the big challengers for the title on such a tough course but with many others on the European professional circuit, there may also be a few surprises which is why many expect it to be one of the most exciting for years.

With the race on a small (7 mile) closed circuit, the opportunities for spectators has never been better. There will be a short walk from the car parks to the course. Once at the course, there are also numerous footpaths around and within the course, to get to the event village, the show, the big TV screen and other key vantage points.

As well as the racing, there will be plenty to keep people occupied including stands for Adidas retail selling team Sky replica kits, CNP, Gatorade, LCC Cycle Roadshow including computrainer and cycle smoothies, UCLan, Cottages4you including competitions, Pendleside Hospice – win a car raffle, Hope Technology Retail, Cycle-sport Pendle cycle try-out activities and Refreshment Stalls.

The organisers are asking people to respect the area and not to drop litter. This also applies to riders and commissaires will be watching! You can see the details for the event below:

-- Sunday 27th June 2010, 8:30am
-- HQ: Seedhill Fitness Centre, Nelson, BB9 7TY
-- Course - Closed roads, 7.5 mile circuit centred on the village of Barley in Pendle.
-- Distance - 8 laps - 96 kms
-- Press Accreditation (Sarah Lee (

To learn more, go to the event website – click here. Riders take note of the race manuals for information.

    Click the map above for a larger version

Riders for the Women’s British RR Championship (to be updated again shortly)

1. Nicole Cooke E
2. Lizzie Armitstead Cervelo T.T. E U23
3. Emma Pooley Cervelo T.T. E
4. Sharon Laws Cervelo T.T. E
5. Danielle King Horizon Fitness R.T. U 23
6. Sarah Storey Horizon Fitness R.T. E
7. Annabel Simpson Horizon Fitness R.T. 3 U23
8. Hannah Rich Horizon Fitness R.T. 1 U23
9. Alex Greenfield Horizon Fitness R.T. U23
10. Lucy Martin 100% ME E
11. Katie Colclough 100% ME E
12. Claire Beaumont Rapha / Condor C.C. 2
13. Tracy Corbett Rapha / Condor C.C. 3
14. Rebecca Curley Rapha / Condor C.C. 3
15. Katie Fearnehough Rapha / Condor C.C. 2
16. Angharad Mason Rapha / Condor C.C. 2
17. Natasha Perry Rapha / Condor C.C. 3
18. Rachel Przbylski Rapha / Condor C.C. 2
19. Catherine Williamson Rapha / Condor C.C. E
20. Ciara Horne Halesowen A and C.C. 3 U23
21. Jessica Booth Halesowen A and C.C. 4
22. Ella Hopkins Halesowen A and C.C. 3
23. Tamina Oliver Team Zappi's 2
24. Claire Galloway Team Zappi's 2
25. Naomi Anderson Team Zappi's 2
26. Jackie Garner Maxgear R.T. 2
27. Alli Holland Maxgear R.T. 1
28. Louise Eden Maxgear R.T. 2
29. Iona Sewell Squadra Donne Bike Food 2 U23
30. Gail Aspden Squadra Donne Bike Food 2
31. Emma Trott Moving Ladies 1
32. Sarah Reynolds Moving Ladies 1 U23
33. Mari Todd Sandy Wallace Cycles 2
34. Anda-Jay Burgess Sandy Wallace Cycles 3
35. Eileen Rowe Limpet Technology 2
36. Kate Cullen Limpet Technology 2
37. Emma Grant A.W. Cycles 3
38. Lowri Bunn Abergavenny R.C. 3
39. Nikki Harris AVB E
40. Catherine Williamson Bizhab-Konica Minolta E
41. Nicola Juniper Ciclos Uno 1
42. Charlotte Colclough CT M.Pinte 1
43. Lucy Coldwell Dalbeattie Hardrock C.C. 4
44. Kara Chesworth Dysynni C.C. 2
45. Anne Ewing Edinburgh R.C. / Bicycleworks 2
46. Mathilde Matthysse Ferryhill Whs / Mountain High R.T. 3
47. Eleanor Jones HA+CC 4
48. Chrissy Radon High Wycombe C.C. 4
49. Claire MacAulay Johnstone Wheelers 3
50. Helen Wyman Kona FSA Factory Team 1
51. Sarah Byrne Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta 3
52. Joanna Rowsell Private Member E
53. Julia Shaw Private Member 2
54. Michelle Dillon Private Member 4
55. Emma Silversides Redsun Ladies Team E
56. Leona Kadir Sigma Sport 2
57. Alice Monger-Godfrey Sprinters Malderen 3
58. Jane Barr Stirling B.C. 3
59. Corrine Hall Team Corridori 2
60. Natalie Creswick Twickenham C.C. 2
61. Claire Thomas Unattached E
62. Leanne Thompson 1
63. Teri Wishart Private Member 4
64. Laura Murray Deeside Thistle C.C. 3

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