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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 July 2006, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Cooke seals fine Thuringen title
Nicole Cooke
Nicole Cooke capped her title by winning Sunday's final stage
Welsh cyclist Nicole Cooke won the Thuringen Rundfahrt 2006 title on Sunday with a merciless display in the sixth and final 113.1km stage.

Selfless rides from Univega team-mates Emma Rickards and Priska Doppmann, who tracked any breakaways, allowed Cooke to pace her own race to perfection.

When the time came to attack after 60km as the course steepened, Cooke was able to join a decisive six-strong break.

Cooke crossed the line first to take her fourth stage and the overall title.

The 23-year-old had dominated Saturday's two stages to extend her lead to 50 seconds going into Sunday's final day.

Cooke won the morning's 18.7km time trial, finishing 26sec ahead of her nearest rival from Friday, Team Bigla's Zoulfia Zabirova.

An added bonus was that Cooke's Univega team-mate Christiane Soeder also overtook Zabirova in the overall times.

Cooke continued her domination in the afternoon, winning the 74.4km fifth stage after a five-up sprint.

Cooke's victory in Saturday's fourth and fifth stages was helped by a canny ride on Friday, where she was content to stay in the peleton and keep an eye on Zabirova and maintain her overall lead.

With none of a breakaway pack a threat to her lead, Cooke was happy to settle for 12th and let Univega team-mate Rickards head off up the road.

Cooke won Thursday's second stage, beating Zabirova, a former World and Olympic time trial champion, to the finish line in Schleiz.

The cyclist from Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan came fourth in Tuesday's opening prologue and had then claimed second in blistering heat in Wednesday's first stage.

SEE ALSO
Cooke delighted at mountain peak
03 Jul 06 |  Cycling


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