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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Cooke aims to be 'unstoppable'
By Piers Newbery

Nicole Cooke
Cooke leads the World Cup with three rounds remaining
Nicole Cooke is closing on a historic World Cup title, but sees that as the very least of her ambitions.

Since making an impact on the public consciousness for the first time by winning gold in last year's Commonwealth Games road race, the Welsh star has gone from strength to strength.

The 20-year-old became the first Briton ever to win a World Cup race in April when she won the Amstel Gold in the Netherlands.

Cooke repeated the feat just three days later in Belgium and finished second behind Geneviève Jeanson in Montreal the following month, moving to the top of the World Cup standings with three rounds remaining.

And Cooke is confident that she can hold her nerve as the season progresses, despite being younger than many of her rivals.

"I've put a lot of effort into training and I'm going to do my best to try and beat them," Cooke told the BBC Sport website.

For my age I think I'm performing pretty much at my peak
Nicole Cooke
"At the moment I'm giving it my best shot, and if I can win the World Cup when I'm 20, then great."

In 2000 she was unable to compete in Sydney because she was too young, even though she was the current British senior champion.

But Cooke has long been singled out as a future star, and proved her talent by winning four junior world titles - the road race twice, the time-trial, and mountain biking - in the 12 months up to the end of 2001.

And the signs are that she will maintain that level of success in the senior ranks.

"Things are progressing well and I'm very happy, but I've no way reached my limit," said Cooke.

"There are a lot of other great athletes out there and I can't rest on my laurels.

"For my age I think I'm performing pretty much at my peak but, as I grow, by my late 20s I want to be unstoppable."

The Wick rider was able to retain her British Road Race Championship earlier this month despite suffering two heavy falls during June.

And the World Cup is now the prime objective for this season, although it is far from the limit of her ambition.

"Genevieve Jeanson is my biggest rival and I think it will be between the two of us for years to come," said Cooke.

Nicole Cooke
Cooke suffered two heavy falls in June
"But she's more of a climber and I'm more of a complete rider.

"One of my heroes is Eddy Merckx because he was a real all-rounder, and I'd like to win the women's Tour de France, one-day events and the Olympics."

Cooke was speaking at the launch of Team Visa, a mentoring scheme which sees her join five other British Olympic hopefuls under the watchful eye of Sir Steven Redgrave.

And with the Olympics very much in her mind, she is keen to learn from Redgrave, as well as the likes of 400m runner Daniel Caines and triathlete Leanda Cave.

"It's very interesting to meet the others and I really need to put the filter on - try and work out what is good for me," she said.

"I really want to draw on the others' experience."


SEE ALSO
Cooke told to rest
08 Jul 03  |  Cycling
Cooke retains national title
29 Jun 03  |  Cycling
Cooke extends Cup lead
02 Jun 03  |  Cycling


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