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Page last updated at 07:13 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Cooke sure of new team's future

Nicole Cooke
Nicole Cooke is excited by her new team's potential

Olympic and world road cycling champion Nicole Cooke says her new team will compete on the international circuit next year, despite lacking a sponsor.

The Welshwoman, 25, still hopes a main financial backer will come on board.

The team, which at the moment is named Vision1 Racing, aims to develop the best of Britain's rising talent.

"The team's all registered and ready to have its debut season next year, everyone involved is really looking forward to that," Cooke told the BBC.

Cooke has enjoyed a magnificent year, finishing 2008 as both the Olympic and world road race champion.

The rider from Wick launched Great Britain's Olympic gold-medal chase by winning in Beijing in August, then followed that up by winning the World Championships in Varese, Italy, in September.

Both races involved thrilling sprints for the line, with Cooke judging her final attack to perfection each time to become the first woman to hold both titles at once.

Every step that we take will bring us closer to having one of the strongest ever teams in London 2012

Nicole Cooke

She was nominated for both the BBC's Welsh and UK Sports Personality of the Year awards.

The only sour note in a great year was the decision by Halfords to withdraw their sponsorship from Cooke's Halfords-Bikehut team in favour of sponsoring a men's team instead.

That left the Wick product with a crossroads decision to make.

"When the season finished I had the choice of finding a lucrative contract with a foreign team," said Cooke.

"But because I wanted to work with the young British girls, the only option I had really was to form my own British team because there isn't any other British team out there.

"That's the situation that we're in and I hope that by leading by example and showing them I really believe in this, that I really believe in them.

"It's the first step in creating the team spirit that will help us through hard times (during races)."

The current financial crisis has made attracting a headline sponsor difficult.

Cooke is confident the right company will eventually come on board but until then she says the team has the resources necessary to fulfil its racing commitments.

"We're looking for sponsors who want to be a part of it and share in our philosophy of investing in the future," added Cooke.

"We're going forward, maybe it will be on a smaller scale next year but we've got all the basics covered then, that's the most important thing."

Cooke admits that success in terms of titles and races won could be limited at first.

But the new team begins life with its sights set firmly on producing a batch of riders who will reach their peak in time for the 2012 Olympics in London.

606: DEBATE

"I think it's a fantastic project - first of all the chance to work with the young British girls and to try to teach them and get them really in the right races and in the right environment so they can learn and progress as good as they can," stated Cooke.

"So that's wonderful and I hope that every step that we take will bring us closer to having one of the strongest ever teams in London 2012.

"It's very easy to take a rider who is already winning races and to continue winning with them, but it's not so easy to take riders when they're still young and haven't really got to the limit of their talent.

"We'll help them make themselves the champions we believe they can be."

Cooke says Vision1 Racing's roster already has "five or six" British women signed up, cyclists to whom Cooke has personally sold her vision of the team.

"We've got Gabby Day, who at the moment is the silver medallist in the British cyclo-cross championships, we've got Katie Curtis - who comes from the Cardiff Ajax Cycling Club like I do - and a couple of others as well," said Cooke.

"So we've got a lot of potential there for the Commonwealth Games team riding for Wales and the Olympics team in four years' time, as well as all the top races between now and then."

Sharon Laws' guide to road racing



see also
GB cycling team secure BBC double
14 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Profile: Nicole Cooke
01 Dec 08 |  Wales
Cooke grabs first GB gold medal
10 Aug 08 |  Cycling


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