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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 June, 2004, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Cooke shows form for Athens
Nicole Cooke
Nicole Cooke won her fourth consecutive British title
Nicole Cooke confirmed her fitness for the Olympics by winning the British Road Race Championships in Newport.

The 21-year-old, a medal hope for the women's road race in Athens, was taking part in her first event since having surgery on her knee six weeks ago.

Cooke broke away with two other riders on the first lap of the 108km course before a decisive attack 20km from the end sealed her fourth consecutive win.

She said: "It was great to turn the pedals again."

Cooke was joined on the podium by Rachel Heal, who had to settle for silver for the second year running, and duathlete Vicky Pincombe.

Pincombe stuck resolutely to the leading duo but it was Cooke and Heal who dictated the pace together.

Heal, who will also travel to Greece as part of the British Olympic team, attacked a number of times but could not shake Cooke.

The duo continued to test each other until Cooke launched a decisive attack on the Cats Ash climb around 20km from the end.

"She didn't really know my form and I didn't really know her's but she kept attacking me," Cooke added.

"It was really using one of her attacks when I countered."

Once Cooke - a four-time junior world champion and the 2003 World Cup winner - was away, there was no catching her and her knee was clearly not a problem as she powered home almost three minutes ahead of Heal.

Clearly relieved she had had no trouble from her injury, Cooke raised her knee and kissed it as she crossed the finish line.

Hammond takes men's race again

Roger Hammond, third in this year's Paris-Roubaix classic, retained his men's national title.

The Belgium-based rider, a member of the British Olympic team, made a decisive break on the final lap of the 189.2-kilometre race.

Selected champions elsewhere around Europe

Belgium: Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago)
Denmark: Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC)
France: Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangère)
Germany: Andreas Kloeden (T-Mobile)
Holland: Erik Dekker (Rabobank)
Italy: Cristian Moreni (Alessio Bianchi)
Spain: Francesco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto)





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Cooke on course for Athens
15 Jun 04  |  Cycling


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