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Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 18:46 UK

Cooke quits world title defence

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

Tatiana Guderzo

Highlights - World Championships women's road race

Britain's defending world champion Nicole Cooke pulled out of the women's World Championship road race midway through the event on Saturday.

Italy's Tatiana Guderzo, 25, claimed gold, with Holland's Marianna Vos second and Italian Noemi Cantele third.

Britain's Emma Pooley was aggressive throughout on the climbs but fell away from the leaders on the final lap.

Cooke, who was struggling with the after effects of a virus, had hoped to be the fifth woman to defend the title.

Last year Cooke became the first woman to win the Olympic and world double but on Saturday she was unable to produce anything like her imperious best on the 124.2km circuit around Medriso in Switzerland.


A big crash split the field about a third of the way through the race but although the 26-year-old was not involved she was unable to get back into contention.

Italy's Cantele, who took the time trial silver medal on Wednesday, made a long solo break, but was hauled in by the leading group - headed by Linda Villumsen, who finished third in the time trial - with 20km to go.

Villumsen launched an attack of her own with 14km to go, on the bell for the final lap, but the rest of the leading group soon caught up, and the decisive break came over the top of the penultimate climb.

Guderzo jumped clear of a leading group containing veteran American Kristin Armstrong, the time trial gold medallist, Vos and Cantele.

Guderzo pulled away from the chasing trio to take a lead of over 20 seconds at the top of the final climb and had the stamina to claim the title.

Nicole Cooke
Defending champion Cooke was never in contention in Switzerland

"I was a member of a team and it's fair to divide this gold between six athletes," said Guderzo.

"We controlled the race from the first lap.

"We knew that Italy was very, very strong. We agreed that if we were together on the last lap, the one who felt better should make the break. I was the lucky one."

Vos out-sprinted Cantele to take the silver with Armstrong - who earlier in the race had had to chase down the field on her own for half a lap after a mechanical problem - unable to make the podium in the final race of her career.

Britain's Pooley finished 14th in a group one minute sevens behind the winner, while team-mates Lizzie Armitstead and Sharon Laws were 27th and 28th respectively.

Compatriot Nikki Harris was taken to hospital after crashing on the first lap, and was later discovered to have torn ligaments in her left shoulder.

In the men's Under-23 race, Britain's Peter Kennaugh finished in fourth place, 49 seconds behind winner Romain Sicard.

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see also
Cooke aims to star on 'home turf'
25 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Brits to watch at the Road Worlds
21 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish withdraws from Worlds
23 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Sick Cavendish ends Missouri bid
11 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish earns landmark victory
08 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Bellis 'stable' following crash
20 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Wiggins out as Boasson Hagen wins
16 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Kennaugh signs Team Sky contract
09 Sep 09 |  Cycling

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