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Cooke's chances of gold boosted

16 July 2002

Nicole Cooke's preparations for the Commonwealth Games go to plan as she wins the the national women’s road race championship.

Cyclist Nicole Cooke

Nicole Cooke in top form as she prepares for her first Commonwealth Games

For the third time in her young life, Welsh rider Nicole Cooke won the race which was held at Resolven, near Neath (Wales).

The British National title race was over 71 miles, a 26-mile loop and then five laps of a nine mile finishing circuit. As the race approached Seven Sisters, where a couple of steep ramps on the long climb gave the four times world junior champion an opportunity to slim down the field, the Deia-Pragma-Colnago professional made her move and only five others were able to respond, Melanie Sears and Rachel Heal (Team Powerbar), Sara Symington (GS Strada), Charlotte Hopkinson (Deeside Olympic/Veeboard) and Dianne Moss (SP Systems/Wightlink).

This group of six soon pulled away from the rest with Team Letchworth, Cycling Scotland and various other riders giving chase but not able to make an impression on the leaders who were working smoothly. With two laps to go through the feed zone, Nicole Cooke looked behind to see that she and Rachel Heal were clear of the others and they agreed to put their heads down and work together, soon pulling away from the rest.

Of the top 10 finishers, eight will be riding the Commonwealth Games for home countries. The most rewarding result of the race was that of Susan Carter who only a few months ago was very nearly killed in a serious racing accident in France. Finishing 10th was not only a very good result for her, it shows that the England selectors were well justified in selecting her as she is one of the key team riders in the world and will be very valuable to the England squad in the Commonwealth Games road race.

Cooke’s hopes for gold received another boost when one of the Canadian favourites, Geneviève Jeanson, was ruled out of the Games with a knee injury. Jeanson, like Cooke, is a former world junior champion who is now one of the top senior riders in the world.

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