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A retirement statement from a sports star rarely causes a flicker, but Nicole Cooke went out as she rode her bike: giving it her all. The contrast could not have been greater - as Lance Armstrong, a fraudster backed by many corporate sponsors and feted by presidents, was about to deliver a stage-managed confession to Oprah, so a shy, young woman from a small village in Wales took aim.
She too had been a cyclist, the only rider ever to have become World and Olympic champion in the same year, and the first British cyclist to have been ranked World No.1, but as a woman in a man's sport, her exploits gained little recognition and brought no riches. She too had ridden through this dark period for the sport when drug-taking was everywhere. Nicole Cooke spoke up for those who had taken a very different path to Lance and his team-mates.
In her frank and outspoken autobiography, Cooke reveals the real story behind British cycling's rise to global dominance. With a child's dreams of success, she left home at 18 to pursue her goals in Italy. Broken contracts, unpaid wages, a horrendous injury and drugs cheats were just some of the challenges she faced, even before she lined up to take on her opponents. The Breakaway is a book that will not only inspire all those who read it, but which also asks some serious questions about the way society regards women's sport.
races. There was, at this time, only one closed road circuit in the UK built for cycle racing, at Eastway in London, and very few other closed road racing events put on throughout the year. Those that existed would attract tiny fields of sometimes fewer than ten riders. As a result, no British youngster under 16 was any good at road racing. There might be somebody who was British champion, but that person would be totally outclassed on the world stage. Nobody was going to be any good because
50m, while I was fourth and Judith fifth. It was heartbreaking to have been so close. Afterwards, Marianne explained the reasoning behind her tactics. She could see us ahead and although she knew that Giorgia was on her wheel, she knew that if she didn’t go from a long way out, they wouldn’t have caught us and then she would have been racing for bronze. She, like me, had gambled on gold and lost. Watching the video after the event I saw that after Judith and I had escaped, there was a regrouping
the women’s sport has declined, even though the men’s races remain. As we watched the men line up, my mind was in race mode even though my legs had not yet turned the pedals. Today there would be a different outcome. I kept near the front as we tackled each of the successive bergs (climbs). As the race wore on, the fast pace reduced the field. Cresting the penultimate hill with 13km to go, Australian Oenone Wood made an attack and I was quickly on to it, with Dori Ruano, my Spanish former
cyclo-sportif events for the active members of the crowd. Fans are attracted from all over Europe. The organisers put up mobile grandstands to go alongside the road they built into the town centre specially for the World Championships in 2000. There is a tunnel under the road for spectators to use on cycle race days and there is even a separate stadium with an outdoor velodrome 500m from the finish line. No community in the world has integrated cycling more into its heart than Plouay. With the
also president of the British Cycling Federation (BCF), was implicated in the betrayal of Graeme and years later was ousted in a coup at the BCF amid a whole range of allegations from both sides. Apart from Robert Millar, now coming to the end of his career, and Chris and Graeme, British prospects looked quite slim at this time. Colin Sturgess had seemed a great prospect but why hadn’t he gone further in the sport? Something was wrong. If Britain was any good at coaching and supporting cyclists,