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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK

Cooke takes road gold

Nicole Cooke of Wales took gold in the women's road race with a superb sprint, despite having looked out of contention moments earlier.

The 19-year-old overshot a bend and dropped off the group on the final lap.

But Cooke fought her way back and overtook Scotland's Caroline Alexander in the race for the line.

Canada's Susan Palmer-Kolmar came through to claim silver, with England's Rachel Heal in third.

"I set myself some big ambitions"
Nicole Cooke

Cooke, a multiple junior world champion, completed the 93.5km course in two hours, 35 minutes and 17 seconds to claim her first senior title.

Asked if she had gone into the race thinking she could win, Cooke said: "Sincerely, yes.

"At the start of the year, I set myself some big ambitions and, unless you believe those ambitions, you won't achieve anything.

"But this year has probably gone better than expected and, although the world championships were not among my targets at the start of the year, they are now.

"I thought I was pretty lucky to get back to the main group after that mistake and, when Caroline went with 400 metres to go, I just went with her and we caught the others by surprise."

Palmer-Komar was the first rider of the day to make a break but was quickly joined by others as the lead repeatedly changed hands.

By the eighth and final lap, a group of seven riders had gone clear.

Finish her career

Alexander tried to get away three times during the short climbs but was quickly hauled back on each occasion.

She finished sixth, her second disappointment of the Games, after a puncture stopped her in the tracks as she was heading for a likely mountain bike gold.

Now the 34-year-old has set her sights on winning the world mountain bike title in Austria in four week's time to finish her career in a blaze of glory.

Australia's Margaret Hemsley was the unluckiest rider of the day, crashing out on a downhill section while leading on the penultimate lap.

Alexander had not realised that Hemsley had fallen and thought that she and the others in the group of seven were battling it out for silver.


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