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Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 11:22 UK

Cooke aims to star on 'home turf'

ROAD CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Venue: Mendrisio, Switzerland Dates: 23-27 September
Coverage: Watch live on the red button and BBC Sport website (UK only)

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Cooke geared up for title defence

Nicole Cooke hopes to take advantage of home comforts when the Olympic champion defends her World Championship crown.

The Welsh rider lives just 12 miles from the Swiss town of Mendrisio so has enjoyed a week-long reconnaissance mission before Saturday's race.

"It will be very tough but I will not give up my title up lightly and without a fight," Cooke told BBC Sport.

"It's very close to where I'm based. So I know the course well as I've been training on it in the build-up."

Cooke, the two-time World Cup winner, is bidding to become just the fifth woman - and the first Great British rider - to successfully defend their road race crown.

606: DEBATE
Alex Murray - BBC Radio 5 live

The 26-year-old entered last year's race on a high following her sensational Olympic gold medal in Beijing and Cooke continued the momentum to secure an Olympic and world title double.

Cooke became the first women to win the Olympic and world double and her world championship achievement ensured she would be the third British woman to claim the coveted rainbow jersey.

And now she hopes to dominate the women's cycling world again and emulate the great Beryl Burton - who ruled the world in 1960 and 1967 - by triumphing twice.

But Cooke, who will lead the seven-strong Great Britain team in Mendrisio, admits: "To be truthful, I'm not in the same condition that I was last year.

Video Diary - Cooke gets set for Worlds

"I had in illness in July and it has taken me a lot longer than I thought to recover so I'll just give it my best shot.

"But to wear that rainbow jersey for the past year has been wonderful, the prestige is incredible. It means so much and I won't give it up lightly and without a fight."

The 2002 Commonwealth champion recently withdrew from the Tour de Ardeche in France to prepare for Saturday's showdown and has had a quite summer - apart from her 10th British road race title.

Cooke lives in the Swiss lakeside resort of Lugano and that is just down the road from the host town of the 49th women's World Road Race Championships.

And she said: "There has been a lot of excitement in the build up to this championship in this area as cycling is very popular here.

"It is the fourth time a world championship has been based in this region so it has a great cycling culture and, for me, it has been wonderful to live in an area where the world championship is being staged.

"I have been on the course getting to know the climbs, the descents and how to pace myself around the course.

"It is only after riding the course a few times that you realise when you can recover and at which stages it requires effort - that knowledge is important and I'm happy with my preparation."



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see also
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Cavendish withdraws from Worlds
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Sick Cavendish ends Missouri bid
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Cavendish earns landmark victory
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Bellis 'stable' following crash
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Wiggins out as Boasson Hagen wins
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Kennaugh signs Team Sky contract
09 Sep 09 |  Cycling


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