The Breakaway: Nicole Cooke

There is a great Scottish word to describe Nicole Cooke, feisty.  To be a truly great champion you need physical ability, intelligence and the mental toughness to overcome adversity whatever its source.  Nicole certainly had a lot with injuries, team problems and suffering the marginalisation of female road racing by British Cycling.  She fought and overcame all of this to win a peerless list of victories that rank alongside Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.  Add to all this a strong and laudable stance against drugs.  How many more races might she have won if it hadn’t been for the drug cheats and why she was never nominated for SPOTI?  She should have been.

I did wonder if sometimes she might have done better by being more devious, subtle and cunning when dealing with authorities but that just wasn’t her style.  As always there are two sides to every ‘story’ and it would be fascinating to read British Cycling’s take on events.  Her preparation and analysis of races is forensic and she probably knows more than anyone about road race preparations at the highest level.  She would make a brilliant team manager, but a job offer from British Cycling does not seem likely.  She has had a stellar career and whatever she does next I wish her well and hope she finds contentment.  Her book gives an interesting insight into the workings of British Cycling; the impression is that as time went by things got better.  She certainly could not be ignored when she was Olympic and World Champion in the same year.  Although Nicole deserves all her awards her parents deserve equal recognition for their unswerving and dedicated support.  Anyone interested in sport would enjoy this book.

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