Nicole Cooke has today announced her retirement from professional cycling after a glittering career spanning 13 years in the sport.
Cooke’s remarkable career has seen her compete at the highest level in road racing, time trial and mountain biking; bursting onto the scene in 1999 winning the senior British national road race championships at just 16 years of age – the youngest ever winner. The following year, 2000, saw the rider win her first world road title as a junior in 2000. Cooke repeated the feat in 2001, also winning the junior world time trial and XC mountain bike titles, as well as national titles on the road, MTB and cyclo-cross.
Cooke went on to ride extensively around the world, with a tighter focus on road racing; highlights including a Giro Donne win in 2004, three Fleche Wallone Feminine victories and back to back triumph in the Grand Boucle Feminine in 2006 and 2007.
However, the pinnacle of Cooke’s career came in 2008 when the Swansea born rider took the world road title, Olympic gold on the road in Beijing and the British national title in the same year. Cooke’s win in the lashing rain in the hills outside Beijing has become an iconic moment in women’s road racing, Cooke giving it everything in the sprint against Emma Johansson of Sweden and Tatiana Guderzo of Italy, winning Great Britain’s first gold medal of the 2008 games.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Cooke said: “I am very happy with my career. I have many, many happy memories over what has been my life's work since I was 12. I have won every race and more that I dreamed I could win."
Reacting to Cooke’s retirement, British Cycling President Brian Cookson said: “Nicole has enjoyed unparalleled success during a 13 year career that’s seen her claim numerous junior, national and world championship titles. One of British Cycling’s finest moments in recent years, was her truly memorable win in the women’s Olympic road race in Beijing 2008.
There is no doubt that Nicole has been a pioneering force in women’s cycling for the past decade, and she has inspired many youngsters to take up our sport. British Cycling owes a huge debt of gratitude to her, and we wish her all the best for the future.”