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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 March 2006, 04:23 GMT
Fearless Cooke targets road race
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Melbourne

Wales' Nicole Cooke
Cooke was fifth in the Olympic road race in Athens 2004
Wales cyclist Nicole Cooke insists her recent crashes will not get in the way of her bid for Commonwealth glory.

The 22-year-old won the women's road race in Manchester four years ago but broke her collarbone at the city's velodrome in December.

She was out for three weeks before then suffering an horrific fall in a Wellington World Cup race in February.

"People might say the preparation's not been ideal but it won't affect my bid for gold on Sunday," said Cooke.

"The first crash disrupted my training schedule but everything's been going superbly since then and I've been down under with my professional team since February."

But Cooke admits she is lucky to be fit for the Games after hitting a parked van in the recent World Cup event in Wellington.

"My bike was completely destroyed and my clothes were shredded," she said. "I couldn't believe I didn't end up worse off. I must have rolled but don't really remember it all that well.

"I only had time for one thought which was 'this is going to hurt'. The next thing I knew I was on my feet and not too badly off."

Cooke insists there will be no additional pressure going into the race on the final day of the Games as the defending champion.

She insisted: "All that Manchester gold gave me was the confidence to know I can win on the biggest stage."

I've done it before and believe I can do it again
Nicole Cooke

The Welsh rider opted against the track events in Melbourne, despite having been entered for the points race.

"The crash at the World Cup event in Manchester in December decided that for me," she said.

In the road race she faces stiff competition from the Australian team, most notably Sara Carrigan and Oenone Wood, who won gold in the women's time trial.

And Cooke said she would need to be at her "tactical best" without any Welsh team back-up.

"I've done it before and believe I can do it again," she said.

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