Former Olympic champion sees bright future for British cycling

The winner of the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics Nicole Cooke, had stated her form was on track to defend her Olympic title successfully. Cooke was aware she would be sharing the protected-rider role in the 140km with her Great Britain teammate Elizabeth Armitstead but given the opportunity, she would be able to deliver.

"We are going to be ready to produce one of the best performances GB has done in an Olympics," Cooke told Western Mail prior to the start of the women’s race."

Cooke hasn’t enjoyed the smoothest run since winning the Olympic road race and the world championships in 2008. She was confident however, that she had turned her season around at the perfect time and would be contending for a medal in the 140km race. In the end it was her teammate Armitstead who shone for the British team, collecting a silver medal for her efforts.

"I made an error going around a corner, which was pretty stupid, but I got back into the pack, where we were marking the chasing Italian and German racers and waiting for the race to develop," she said.

"Lizzie did a fantastic ride - we were there backing her up but she didn't need it because she was superb."

It is the development of women’s cycling within Great Britain that Cooke was truly proud of. Her silver medal-winning teammate Armitstead is just 23-years-old and is a positive sign that British cycling isn’t just being developed on the men’s side of the sport.

"It is nice to know women’s cycling has moved on so much over the years – and it is not just me by myself," she said.

Armitstead has the best parts of her career ahead of her while Cooke, at just 29-years-old was not interested in commenting on her next Olympic participation. It would be her third Olympic Games participation for the rider who began her career when she won her first national road race title in 1999 and a junior world road race title in 2000. She has since won multiple national titles, Commonwealth Games medals, Olympic gold and a senior world road title.

"I am just going to enjoy the rest of these Olympics," she said. "I have worked very hard for this day and we have got a medal as a team. We will see whether I am at another Olympics at another time," said Cooke.

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