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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Cooke nears World Cup glory
Nicole Cooke
Nicole Cooke has won three of the seven World Cup stages
Nicole Cooke is within touching distance of winning the World Cup series.

The Welsh cyclist extended her lead at the top of the rankings after victory at the seventh stage in the Grand Prix de Plouay in Brittany, France.

Cooke now only needs 33 points, or a third place in one of the remaining two stages to become the first Briton to win the World Cup.

"I'm so happy. It really was fantastic, it's a dream," said Cooke, who has recovered from a knee injury after two heavy falls in May and June.

"My team worked so hard and when it came to it I did my bit. If I'm honest I was a bit apprehensive coming into this race because I knew I wasn't 100%.

Earlier in the week I went out with Diana Ziliute and Zita Urbanaite and I wasn't going too well on the hills. But I obviously got my form back during the three days rest."

Cooke out-sprinted some of the world's top women in the closing stages to beat Judith Arndt and Mirjam Melchers.

Both could still catch Cooke in the overall standings by taking a first and a second in the final two races, but only the Wick rider fails to pick up any more points.

So with a 118 point lead from second place Sara Carrigan, Cooke could clinch the title at next weekend eight stage in Nurenberg, Germany.

Results:

1 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Ausra Gruodis-Safi 2.59.45
2 Judith Arndt (Ger) Nurnberger
3 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Farm Frites-Hartol
4 Joane Somarriba (Spa) Spanish National Team
5 Juliette Vandekerckhove (Fra) French National Team @ 0.25
6 Arenda Grimberg (Ned) Farm Frites-Hartol
7 Modesta Vzesniauskaite (Lit) Ausra Gruodis-Safi
8 Maribel Moreno (Spa) Spanish National Team @ 0.30
9 Lyne Bessette (Can) Canadian National Team @ 1.02
10 Regina Schleicher (Ger) Chirio-Forno d'Absolo @ 1.21

Cup standings:

1 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Ausra Gruodis 282 pts
2 Sara Carrigan (Aus) Powerplate Bik 164
3 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Farm Frites-Hartol 159
4 Judith Arndt (Ger) Nurnberger 157
5 Regina Schleicher (Ger) 131
6 Anita Valen (Nor) 97
7 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) 94
8 Olivia Gollan (Aus) 87
9 Katie Mactier (Aus) 80
10 Edita Pucinskaite (Lit) 76


Men's race

Frenchman Andy Flickinger, 25, riding for Ag2r, won the men's Grand Prix Ouest-France in Plouay.

The men's race is not a round of the World Cup, but is a "hors-categorie" one-day race.

Flikinger led home three compatriots: Anthony Geslin of La Boulangère, Nicolas Jalabert from CSC and Christophe Mengin of fdjeux.com.

Norwegian Fakta rider Kurt-Asle Arvesen was fifth with Ireland's former junior world champion Mark Scanlon of Ag2r placing sixth, the last of the lead group to finish.

1 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2r 4.34.22 (43.2 km/h)
2 Anthony Geslin (Fra) La Boulangère
3 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) CSC
4 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Fdjeux.com
5 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) fakta
6 Mark Scanlon (Irl) Ag2r
7 Joseba Albizu (Spa) Mercatone Uno @ 0.03
8 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Jean Delatour @ 0.25
9 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis @ 1.38
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole @ 1.48



SEE ALSO
Cooke out of Euro Champs
10 Aug 03  |  Cycling
Cooke aims to be 'unstoppable'
31 Jul 03  |  Cycling


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