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Cooke medal hopes boosted by Laws

Sharon Laws
Laws finished 10th in the 2008 Tour of New Zealand

Nicole Cooke's Olympic road-race hopes have been boosted by Sharon Laws' move to the Halfords Bikehut women's team.

British Cycling is contemplating adding a third rider to the current two-woman Olympic team of Cooke and Emma Pooley.

Though Laws, 33, is a recent convert to road-racing, her displays in Australia convinced GB performance director Dave Brailsford to offer her a contract.

"Should Sharon get that third berth it would put the team in a very strong position," said Brailsford.

Laws' background is in adventure racing and endurance mountain biking. In 2004 she won the gruelling eight-day Cape Epic mountain-bike race in South Africa.

She began riding on the road to train for mountain biking, but when she moved to Australia 18 months ago, her form on the road was confirmed.

To be spoken about as a possible for the GB Olympic team is a lot to take in

Sharon Laws

Despite working full time, she won the Tour of Bright (a three-stage hilly road race in Victoria) and decided to quit her job, get a coach and ride seriously.

The decision paid off, and earlier this year, after only a month of coaching, she finished runner-up to Team High Road's Oenone Wood at the Australian National Championships.

The Australians were keen to discuss her joining their squad full time, but Brailsford was also watching Laws' progress and arranged for her to return to the UK and join Halfords Bikehut.

Following British Cycling's success in converting Rebecca Romero and Shanaze Reade to track cycling, the move to recruit Laws makes her a strong contender for a possible third berth in Beijing.

"Great Britain now has the potential to be one of the strongest teams on the start line in Beijing," commented Dave Brailsford.

606: DEBATE

"Nicole and Sharon will race together as team-mates throughout the season, and Emma will also join them for races like the Tour de l'Aude.

"Should Sharon get that third berth it would put the team in a very strong position compared to squads that only come together just before the Olympics."

For her part, Laws is happy to take her new road career step by step: "To get a pro-contract is a dream come true" she remarked.

"To be spoken about as a possible for the GB Olympic team is a lot to take in.

There are a lot of very experienced riders competing for that third berth, so for the moment I'm concentrating on doing a good job for Halfords Bikehut."

Laws' first major race for Halfords Bikehut will be at the one-day Fleche Wallone classic in Belgium on 23 April.

see also
Cooke hails all-British pro team
09 Jan 08 |  Cycling


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