The finale of the UCI Women's World Cup in Nürnberg ended in a bunch sprint on Sunday, which isn't unusual. It also saw the reigning World Champion Marianne Vos beat out the world's fastest sprinters for the win - something unexpected but not unheard of. However, it was quite unusual to see the Welsh World Cup leader, Nicole Cooke, fade to 34th place and lose her grip on the series title to Vos.
"I didn't want to gift this to Vos without a fight," Cooke told the BBC. "It was a terrific ride by her, the pressure was on and she came up with the goods." However, it emerged that one reason Cooke could not maintain her lead was that she has been suffering from a knee injury which will require surgery. "On the day I just couldn't do anything more because of my knee injury. Marianne won and I must be very proud of my second place."
After taking the lead in the World Cup series in the first race in Geelong, Australia back in March, Cooke held the jersey of the series leader until Vos took home the win in the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt ahead of T-Mobile's Ina Teutenberg and Regina Schleicher (Equipe Nürnberger). The win earned the Dutch phenom double points which was enough to wipe out Cooke's 80 point lead.
The knee injury prevented Cooke from preparing for the final World Cup race, and kept the 2003 and 2006 series champion from taking a third title, but will also likely mean the British champion will not battle Vos for the World Championship in Stuttgart. "I have had a terrific season with a number of wins. My highlight was winning La Grande Boucle for the second time, but I am disappointed with the final result as I wanted to be the first person to win the World Cup for the third time."
Cooke will head back to Britain for knee surgery on Monday, but can take solace in the fact that her team, Raleigh Lifeforce Creation, beat Vos' Team DSB bank in the World Cup teams classification.