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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK

Cooke ready for world

By Clive Lindsay
BBC Sport Online

Nicole Cooke carries an immense sense of self-belief that appears destined to take the 19-year-old to the top of the cycling world.

The Glamorgan teenager had already conquered all in the junior ranks by taking the world title four times and becoming the first woman to hold road race and mountain bike titles at the same time.

And she has already beaten world and Olympic champions this season on her way to six professional victories.

"I thrive on face-to-face competition"
Nicole Cooke

Now Cooke has cemented her growing standing in the senior ranks by winning the gold medal for Wales in the road race at the Commonwealth Games.

Her renowned power pulled her clear of the others in a seven-strong sprint finish to the line at Rivington, near Bolton.

She had already finished 10th in the time trial and sixth in the points race.

But duelling on the road is where this Welsh dragon starts firing in all cylinders.

"I thrive on face-to-face competition," she said.

"I have been working for this for some time and was determined not to blow it."

"I set myself some big ambitions"
Nicole Cooke

While she admitted that luck went her way during the race, she said she was not surprised by her latest triumph.

This season has somewhat exceeded her expectations, but it only means she is achieving her ambitions quicker than even she had hoped for.

"At the start of the year, I set myself some big ambitions and, unless you believe in those ambitions then you won't achieve them," she said.

Cooke had not targeted the world championships so soon, but now she is itching to take on the best around the globe.

A mere 24 hours after helping Wales to their best medals total ever in cycling at a Commonwealth Games, she will be in Holland ready to race for her professional team, Deia-Pragma-Colnago.

Clearly, there is no time to rest on laurels during Nicole Cooke's climb to the top.

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