Olympic and Wolrd Champion road cyclist Nicole Cooke has won her 10th British National road race title in Abergavenny, Wales.
Nicole, 26, won her 10th British jersey, ninth successively to close in on Beryl Burton’s national title record of 12.
The two-time World Cup winner quickly joined a breakaway pack that included Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley and Catherine Williamson early on in the 80-mile race around the lanes of Monmouthshire and streets of Abergavenny.
Williamson, though, dropped off and Nicole held off Armitstead and Pooley to clinch her 10th title in 11 years in a dramatic sprint finish after almost three-and-half hours of cycling in South Wales.
A delighted Nicole said, “The home crowd spurred me on definitely,”
“It is a great to have people cheering and coming down the finishing straight was incredible as was the applause after I won. I couldn’t have dreamed of winning my 10th title in a better place than back home in Wales.”
But in a dramatic turn of events Lizzie Armitstead was controversially stripped of her silver medal as she had already won at Under 23 level and race chiefs decided she could not compete for both, so Pooley was reluctantly awarded silver and Williamson bronze.
Colin Crews, president Commissaries for the race, explained the situation to the BBC: “The under-23 presentation was about to get underway and it was at that stage I realised that Lizzie was an under-23 rider and she was already going up to receive the under-23 title.
“But international regulations are quite clear that no rider can win or even compete in two championships’ in different age groups in the same year in the same discipline.
“If the under-23 race had been raced separately and Lizzie had won it, she would have deemed herself ineligible for the elite championship. So by receiving the under-23 jersey and title, which is a far superior award, she deemed herself to be out of consideration for an award in the elite race.
“If she wanted to take the elite silver medal, Lizzie would have had to reject the under-23 title and the jersey that went with it.
“It wasn’t an easy decision for me to make but I was just upholding the international regulations.
“The decision of the race commissaries is final but if the board of British cycling want to re-examine the result then they are at liberty to do so – but no appeal can be held today.”
Pooley said afterwards, “If this mess isn’t sorted out, I’ll give Lizzie the silver medal myself because it’s not really fair.
“I don’t want a silver medal if it’s not mine. It’s not the bit of metal that matters, but the principle – and everyone here saw she beat me so there is no question.”
Cooke, who races for Vision 1 Racing, is now preparing for a two week training camp at Lago Maggiore in Italy which starts on July 5th where she will be joined by the rest of her Vision 1 team mates.
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine