Cooke on top of the world

Nicole Cooke won the 2008 UCI Women’s Road World Championships in Varese, Italy on 27 September, 2008. Cooke’s triumph came a month after she captured the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The Welsh rider became the first Briton since Mandy Jones 26 years earlier to win the world title. She beat Dutch star Marianne Vos and Germany’s Judith Arndt to the gold medal in the 138.8 kilometre race.

A group of 13 riders broke away from the main group, driven mainly by the American Kristin Armstrong, after an early crash and they gained 25 seconds on the field. They were eventually pulled back by the Dutch and British teams with one of the eight laps left to go.

As soon as the break was caught, Vos launched a counter-attack on the Montello climb. Cooke, Arndt, Trixi Worrack, Emma Johansson and Susanne Ljungskog joined her in what was to become the winning break. Ljungskog’s chances ended when she punctured, leaving five in the break.

Worrack and Vos attacked on the final hill, but were brought back to the break with 2 km to go. The race finished with a sprint – Vos took the lead before being overtaken by Cooke just before the finish line. Arndt struggled to match their speed in the sprint and she was nearly caught out by a late surge by Johansson, but eventually crossed the line in third place.