Defending Olympic women's road race champion Nicole Cooke received a boost to her 2012 London Games preparations when she won Saturday's Subaru Noosa GP in Queensland, Australia.
She beat a strong local field that included Commonwealth Games champion Rochelle Gilmore, Garmin-Cervelo pro Carla Ryan, the in-form Carlee Taylor and experienced sprinter Trudy Van Der Straaten
For Cooke the Subaru Cycling Grand Prix marked the beginning of her campaign to defend her Olympic crown in London. Her World Championships campaign this year wasn't what had been hoping for, with fourth place in Copenhagen, although this weekend's win is the best start to the pre-season.
"It's a great start to the Olympic campaign," she said. "I've had a break since the world championships and arrived in Perth a few weeks ago, where my brother lives.
"That [Perth] will be my base for the Australian summer and this is the first weekend of my pre-season training so it's off to a very good start."
Cooke won from a breakaway group of five, taking the sprint ahead of van der Straaten, with her teammate Peta Mullens rounding out the podium in third. And she credited the talented Victorian for her valuable work in the finale.
"My teammate Peta [Mullens] won this event last year and she lead me out here and totally sacrificed her place for me," Cooke said.