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British Cycling today announced the composition of its women's road cycling team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Defending road race champion Nicole Cooke will return in search of more gold, while Beijing time trial silver medalist Emma Pooley will look to elevate her status to Olympic champion come August 1.
Cooke will compete only in the road race, while Pooley and Elizabeth Armitstead will ride both the time trial and road race.
A surprise nod was given to Lucy Martin, who rides on the AA Drink-Leontien.nl professional team alongside Pooley and Armitstead. While she is ranked lower in the UCI rankings than other British riders such as Wendy Houvenaghel, Sharon Laws and Julia Shaw, Martin is a key lead-out for Armitstead should the race come down to a bunch sprint.
"I’m really excited to have been selected for my first Olympic Games, it’s a massive honour and I am so proud to be part of Team GB at a home Games," Martin said in a press release. "I’m prepared to give everything I’ve got and just cannot wait to race now in front of a home crowd around the streets of London.”
Dave Brailsford, the British Cycling Performance Director, acknowledged that the selection was difficult. “Narrowing down the women’s road team from six riders to four wasn’t an easy decision for the selectors to make, but we believe that the four riders we have selected will give us the best opportunity of winning the race."
Last fall, a public controversy erupted when Armitstead accused Cooke of riding for herself instead of the team in the world championships. The pair later reconciled, and now tasked with keeping the women's road race gold medal in the hands of Great Britain, Cooke has vowed to be a key part of that effort. "I am honoured to be representing Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games and doing everything I can to deliver a gold medal for our team. We have a set of riders with real potential and I am looking forward to playing my part in delivering that gold," Cooke said.