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Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cooke starts her own team


James Munro meets Nicole Cooke and her team

By James Munro

Nicole Cooke has set her sights on defending her world road race title in Switzerland this September.

To do it, the Olympic champion will rely on the support of a team she has started from scratch this season.

Cooke says she created Vision1 Racing "to keep things interesting" and further her own career.

"It's really about creating the best environment for me, so that I can continue to perform and be able to put the preparations in exactly as I need for the London Olympics," she explained.

"I've raced in the past in some teams where there are so many things which are crazy.

Nicole Cooke
Cooke claimed Olympic gold in Beijing, the first of 19 for Britain

"It's better not to worry about wages not being paid, bikes being taken away a week before the World Championships, and having team-mates who have a very different set of values to the ones I have."

But the 25-year-old Welsh wonder also hopes her new team can provide a platform for a new generation of British riders.

"People have helped me throughout my career without expecting anything back," she said.

"That's the feeling I've got. I want to see the girls improve and get inspiration.

"I can see mistakes that I made when I was new to racing. You cannot just read a textbook.

"It's so instinctive because of the tactics, the tiredness, all those lulls in racing.

"So it's really putting the girls into the situation where they are looking for these signs and putting it into action."

Every rider in Vision1 Racing has been hand picked by Cooke. So has team manager Stefan Wyman.

And five of the team's nine riders are British, including four-time national cyclo-cross champion Helen Wyman and the woman who finished second to her this year, Gabby Day.

Nicole Cooke (GBR)
Katie Curtis (GBR)
Gabriella Day (GBR)
Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (FRA)
Dani King (GBR)
Debby van de Berg (NED)
Aurore Verhoeven (FRA)
Vicki Whitelaw (AUS)
Helen Wyman (GBR)

"To be able to ride with the Olympic and World champion is not an experience that everyone is going to have," said Day.

"It's really exciting and I can learn from her and get massive experience."

The road race season is already under way.

Cooke finished 12th in the GP Costa Etruschi in Livorno last Friday, behind Emma Pooley, the British rider who helped steer Cooke to World and Olympic gold.

This weekend, it is the first round of the women's World Cup, which also takes place in Italy.

Yet the World Championships are the focus of Cooke's season.

"The opportunity is there to be in great form and give as good a defence of my world title as possible," she said. "That's my aim."

Watch out for more video on the BBC Sport website from Nicole and her team over the next few months

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see also
All eyes on Cooke
24 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Cooke named Sportswoman of Year
12 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
Cooke battles to world road title
27 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Cooke grabs first GB gold medal
10 Aug 08 |  Cycling
Cooke sure of new team's future
17 Dec 08 |  Cycling

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