Published: 25 July 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
Beijing Olympic champion Nicole Cooke says Great Britain's women’s road team is well-placed to challenge for the medals in Sunday’s road race.
British Cycling member Cooke, along with Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin, make up Great Britain’s squad for the 140km test on 29 July. The ten times British road race champion along with Armitstead will be the quartet’s main two riders with a decision to be made on a leader as the race unfolds.
The 29-year-old from Swansea, who also won at the UCI Road World Championships in 2008, admits her form at the start of the season wasn’t ideal but is now confident of peaking at the crucial moment.
"I haven't had my best form, but I think things are coming round well now for race day,” Cooke said.
"We know we're one of the strong nations in cycling now. This is another fantastic opportunity for us all to show what we're capable of."
Women’s road coach Chris Newton added: "In past big occasions, Nicole does raise her game and she's such a competitor. She can really cause some damage in that race.
"The other nations either respond to that or they don't. If they do respond to it, Lizzie's sitting pretty. If they don't Nicole's like 'here we go'. On Sunday we'll see Nicole's in the right place.”
The challenging course in London, which includes two loops of Box Hill for the women’s race, has made predicting the outcome difficult. As one of only five nations to have a team of four riders, Great Britain are well placed to cope with the numerous scenarios that could be presented.
“We have Lizzie and Nicole as the two main riders for the team,” women's road coach Chris Newton explained.
"We're looking for results, whether it will be Lizzie or Nicole. We've got Nicole, former champion, to use. She will be given the rein of attacking and riding from an aggressive point of view. If that succeeds, we're very happy for Nicole to go for glory and ride for that win.
"If it came down to a sprint, Lizzie is the leader. But Lizzie is not in the same league as Cav (Cavendish) is in the men's road race. You take Cav to the finish and you're guaranteed a win, pretty much. It's fair to say that Lizzie's not in that category at the moment."
Armitstead, who will be competing in her first Games in London, echoed the sentiment of Newton and cited former road world champion and two-time Giro Donne winner Marianne Vos of the Netherlands as a key threat.
"For us it's fairly obvious that the best option is an open tactic," the 23-year-old from Otley said. "We'll race the race aggressively, because that suits us all.
"Most people are going to be watching Marianne Vos. She is going to be heavily marked. That will be an advantage for us. We've got four cards that we can play and nobody knows what's going to happen.”
The women’s road race takes place on Sunday 28 July, starting at 12noon.