Nicole Cooke rode a limited race programme in 2010 after the collapse of Team Nürnberger in February but she looks set to return to her best after joining the new MCipollini-Giordana team for 2011.
Cooke is one of three former world champions in the team, along side Italians Marta Bastianelli and Tatiana Guderzo. They will be the three leaders of the team along with current Italian national champion Monia Baccaille.
“I’m really pleased to have teamed up with the other world champions, we’ve got a really strong line-up and I’m sure we’ll have a successful debut season,” Cooke told Cyclingnews.
“I was talking to some teams during the season but then Walter Ricci Petitoni told me his plans, and then it all happened pretty quickly. It’s not easy when your team suddenly folds and leaves you struggling like Nürnberger did at the start of the season, but I think I still performed pretty well in 2010.”
Cooke finished fourth in the world championships in Australia after making a late attack with Judith Arndt of Germany. They were caught almost in sight of the finish but Cooke dug deep and fought all the way to the line, just missing out on a medal.
She won Olympic gold and the world title in 2008 and is widely acknowledged as the most aggressive rider in women’s racing. Cooke plans to target the biggest one-day races on the calendar in 2011, including World Cup events such as the Tour of Flanders and Fleche Wallonne.
“We haven’t gone through our plans for next season in detail yet but I think things will naturally fall into place,” Cooke explained. “I’d like to do the one-day races and I think Tatiana Guderzo will target the stage races.”
Cooke has already enjoyed her off season and is back in training for the 2011 season.
“Things are going well so far. I’m in the UK at the moment but will be spending time at my base in Lugano, Switzerland and in Tuscany. I’m motivated for 2011. Women’s cycling looks stronger than ever, with some great teams in the peloton. It should be an exciting season.”
Cooke is expected to make her debut with the MCipollini-Giordana team at the women’s Tour of Qatar that begins of February 2.