Nicole Cooke

Nicole Cooke

Cooke on the podium after winning the 2007 Geelong World Cup
Personal information
Full name Nicole Denise Cooke
Nickname The Wick Wonder, Cookie[1]
Born (1983-04-13) 13 April 1983
Swansea, Wales
Height 1.67 m (5 ft 6 in)[2]
Weight 58 kg (128 lb; 9 st)[2]
Team information
Current team Retired
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Amateur team(s)
Cardiff Ajax CC
Professional team(s)
2002 Deia-Pragma-Colnago
2003 Ausra Gruodis-Safi
2004–2005 Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan
2006 Univega Raleigh Lifeforce
2007 Raleigh Lifeforce Creation HB Pro Cycling Team
2008 Team Halfords Bikehut
2009 Vision 1 Racing
2011 Mario Cipollini – Giordana Team
2012 Faren Honda Team
Major wins

Stage Races

Giro d'Italia Femminile
Winner (2004)
Youth classification (2004)
2 individual stages
Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen (2006)
Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale (2006, 2007)
Giro del Trentino Alto Adige – Südtirol (2009)

Single-Day Races

UCI Women's Road World Cup
Overall (2003, 2006)
La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (2003, 2005, 2006)
Amstel Gold Race (2003)
GP Castilla y Leon (2006)
Geelong World Cup (2007)
Tour of Flanders for Women (2007)
GP de Plouay (2003)
UCI Single Day Races
GP de Wallonie (2005)
T Mobile International (2004)
Souvenir Magali Pache (2006)
National Road Race Champion
(1999, 2001–2009)

Nicole Denise Cooke, MBE (born 13 April 1983) is a Welsh former professional road bicycle racer and Commonwealth, Olympic and World road race champion. Cooke announced her retirement from the sport on 14 January 2013 at the age of 29.[3][4]

Early life

Cooke was born in Swansea,[5] and grew up in Wick, Vale of Glamorgan. She attended Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend,[6] in the year below Gavin Henson. She began cycling at 11,[7] starting at Cardiff Ajax Cycling Club[8] of which she is a life member. At 16 she won her first senior national title, becoming the youngest rider to take the senior women's title at the 1999 British National Road Race Championships. At 17 she became the youngest rider to win the senior women's title at the 2001 British National Cyclocross Championships. Later that year Cooke won her second senior women's title at the 2001 British National Road Race Championships. .[9] She won four UCI World Championship Junior titles, the road race in 2000 (Plouay, France), and the unique treble of mountain bike (Colorado, USA), time trial and road race (both Lisbon, Portugal) in 2001.[10] As a result of this achievement she was awarded the 2001 Bidlake Memorial Prize for outstanding performance or contribution to British cycling.[11]

International cycling career 2002–2007

Cooke turned professional for the Spanish-Ukrainian Deia-Pragma-Colnago team at the start of the 2002 season,[12] basing herself in Forli, Italy where she shared a house with Australian rider and future Wiggle High5 founder Rochelle Gilmore[13] and learned Italian.[14]

In her first professional season in 2002, Cooke won races in Italy, France and the Netherlands,[15][16] and won the road race in the 2002 Commonwealth Games.[17] Cooke said her strength left her in her first Tour de France, aged 19, and a meeting in the team campervan suggested "medicines" to help her.[3] She refused them.[3] The Deia-Pragma-Colnago team did not pay wages to Cooke and some colleagues. The team took Cooke's racing bicycle ahead of the world road championships in October and then returned it in time for the World Championships following a telephone call from Ernesto Colnago.[18] Nicole was runner-up in the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year competition.

Cooke signed for the Acca Due O Team for 2003 and a new UCI regulation limiting team sizes split the Acca Due O squad in two for 2003 so Cooke rode for the new Ausra Gruodis-Safi Team with many of the younger riders.[19] She rode for the merged and renamed Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan Team in 2004 and 2005.

In 2003 Cooke won La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the Amstel Gold, the GP de Plouay and the GP San Francisco. She was the 2003 UCI Women's Road World Cup champion, youngest to win the competition and the first Briton. She came third in the world road championship. Cooke was voted BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year. She hit a stationary police motorbike in June at the Tour du Grand Montréal[20] required stitches in her left knee.[21] Three weeks later she crashed again at the Giro de Trentino[22] and had to miss 4 weeks of racing in July and August.

A winter and spring of rehabilitation failed to cure the recurring knee problem and she had surgery in May.[23] At the end of June in her first race in eight months, she won her fifth British title.[24] The following month Cooke won the Giro d'Italia Femminile, the youngest winner and the first British cyclist, male or female, to win a Grand Tour.[25] At the 2004 Summer Olympics she placed fifth in the women's road race and 19th in the road time trial.

In 2005 she again won La Flèche Wallonne Féminine. She also won the GP Wallonie, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Trofeo Citta di Rosignano. She came second in the world championship.

At the end of 2005 she joined Swiss-based team Univega Pro-Cycling[26] for two seasons, moving to Lugano in 2006[27] where she still lives.[28]

In December 2005, preparing for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, she broke a collarbone during the Manchester leg of the UCI Track World Cup;[29] despite this, she came third in the road race at the Games in March 2006.[30]

On 1 August 2006 Cooke took over as number 1 on the UCI's women's world road race rankings.[31] On 3 September 2006 she secured the UCI Women's Road World Cup for a second time after winning three world cup races in the season – La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the Ladies Golden Hour[32] and the Castilla y Leon World Cup Race.[33] She also won the 2006 Grande Boucle, the women's Tour de France, by over 6 minutes.[34] Other important wins included four stages and the overall title at Thüringen-Rundfahrt stage race[35] and the Magali Pache Time Trial.[36] She came third in the UCI World Road Race Championships.

In 2007, Cooke took the Geelong World Cup and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the first two races on the 2007 UCI Women's Road World Cup. These early season wins led to her setting a new record in the UCI's women's world road race rankings for the gap between the first and second ranked cyclists.[37] She also won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda for a second time, the Tour of Geelong,[38] stage 2 of the GP Costa Etrusca[39] and defended her Grande Boucle title.

A knee injury sustained prior to the last race of the 2007 World Cup, the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt, prevented Cooke from fully defending her title with close challenger Marianne Vos winning the final race and taking the title.[40] Cooke had led the series since the first race. The injury forced her to miss the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart.[41] Cooke later admitted in an interview in 2008 that she had considered quitting the sport due to the injury.[42]

2008: Olympic and World success

Cooke joined Team Halfords Bikehut for 2008. Her first victory of 2008 was the Tour de l'Aude, in which she rode with a Great Britain national team, taking the first stage and finishing fourth overall.[43] On 28 June, Cooke won her ninth national road race champion title, and her eighth consecutive win.

Cooke represented Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in the Women's Road Race where she won the gold on 10 August 2008, the 200th gold for Great Britain in the Modern Olympic Games.[44] and the first Road Race Gold Medal for Great Britain in this discipline.

She became the first cyclist, male or female, to become the road race World Champion and Olympic gold medalist in the same year.[45] An eventful race in Varese, Italy lasted 3 hours 42 minutes and 11 seconds, culminating in a sprint beating Marianne Vos in to 2nd place and Judith Arndt in 3rd. She credited her team mates for their work, pulling back the 12-rider break with 1 lap to go, putting Cooke back in contention.[46]

Cooke's book, Cycle for life was published in October 2008 by Kyle Cathie (ISBN 9781856267564). The book combines her passion and enthusiasm for cycling, together with her knowledge, proficiency and experience. It is aimed at cyclists at all levels, with expert advice on everything from getting started to turning competitive, covering commuting, racing and riding with friends.[47]

Later career: 2009-2012

Cooke wearing the British National Road Race Champion's jersey in the 2010 Flèche Wallonne Féminine, in which she finished second to Emma Pooley

Cooke was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[48] She was awarded the Transworld Sport "Female Athlete of the Year" title in recognition of her achievements in 2008.[49] She was also awarded the Sunday Times Sportswoman Of The Year award.[50]

In June 2009 Cooke captured the Giro del Trentino title and won her national championship for the tenth time.[51]

After Cooke's Vision1 Cycling Team finished 7th in the 2009 UCI Team Rankings, Cooke closed the Team due to difficulties attracting a major sponsor as the Global Financial Crisis hit. Cooke signed for Equipe Nuernberg Versicherung for 2010. The Team Management had put the team together without signing a main sponsor and in December announced the team had collapsed. Despite a signed contract, the Management did not fulfill their obligations leaving the riders without a team or salary. Cooke raced and trained with the British cycling team in the 2010 season and won a stage at the Iurreta-Emakumeen Bira along with a 5th Place in the Commonwealth Games Women's Road Race and a 4th Place in the World Championships Road Race.

In November 2010 Cooke joined the Italian-based Mcipollini-Giordana team for 2011 and won Stage 5 of the Giro D'Italia and took 4th Place in the World Championships Road Race. In October Cooke won the GP Noosa, Australia.

Joining Faren – Honda for 2012, Cooke scored a win on Stage 6 of the Energiewacht Tour in the Netherlands. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she competed in the road race.

Cooke announced her retirement from the sport on 14 January 2013 at the age of 29.[3][4]

After cycling

In March 2014, Cooke was reported to be studying for an MBA at Cardiff University.[52] Her autobiography, The Breakaway, was published in the summer of 2014. The Guardian's Richard Williams described it as "a compelling and salutary account of the price she paid for the victories from which many others will benefit".[53]


1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
1st UCI Road World Championships, Junior, Plouay
2nd British National Cyclo-cross Championships
3rd UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Junior, Lisbon
5th Grand Prix de Quebec
1st UCI Road World Championships, Junior, Lisbon
1st UCI Time Trial World Championships, Junior, Lisbon
1st UCI Cross Country MTB World Championships, Junior, Colorado
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
1st  GBR British National Mountain Bike Championships
1st  GBR British National Cyclo-cross Championships (youngest ever winner)
1st Best Young Rider, Grand Prix de Quebec
1st Mountains Jersey, Grand Prix de Quebec
1st Road Race, Commonwealth Games, Manchester
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
1st 12th Trofeo Citta di Rosignano (ITA)
1st 4th Memorial Pasquale de Carlo (ITA)
1st Mountains Jersey, Trofeo Banca Popolare (ITA)
1st Stage 2, Trofeo Banca Popolare (ITA)
1st Ronde van Westerbeek, the Netherlands
1st Best Young Rider, Giro della Toscana
1st Best Young Rider, Giro del Trentino
3rd Veulta Castilla-y-Leon (ESP)
3rd Tour Midi Pyrenees (FRA)
1st Stage 2, Tour Midi Pyrenees (FRA)
1st Mountains Jersey, Tour Midi Pyrenees (FRA)
1st Overall, UCI Women's Road World Cup
1st Amstel Gold
1st La Flèche Wallonne Féminine
1st GP Plouay
1st GP San Francisco
1st Stage 5 Holland Ladies Tour
1st Mountains Jersey, Vuelta Castilla y Leon
1st Best Young Rider, Trofeo Banco Populare Alto Adige
1st Best Young Rider, Giro Della Toscana
1st Stage 3a, Giro Della Toscana
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
3rd UCI Road World Championships, Hamilton
1st Giro d'Italia Femminine (Giro Donne)
1st Stage 8
1st GP San Francisco/T Mobile International
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
1st Best Young Rider, Giro Della Toscana
1st Points Jersey, Giro Della Toscana
5th Road Race, Summer Olympics
19th Time Trial, Summer Olympics
1st La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (BEL), UCI Women's Road World Cup
1st GP Wallonie (BEL)
1st Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Cittiglio (ITA)
1st 15th Trofeo Citta di Rosignano (ITA)
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
1st Stage 5, Holland Ladies Tour
1st Stage 1a, Giro Della Toscana
2nd UCI Road World Championships
1st Overall, UCI Women's Road World Cup
1st Castilla y Leon
1st La Flèche Wallonne Féminine
1st The Ladies Golden Hour
2nd Open de Suède Vargarda
2nd La Coupe du Monde Montréal
3rd GP de Plouay
4th Lowland International Rotterdam Tour
5th Berner-Rundfahrt
5th Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt
6th Ronde van Vlaanderen
8th Geelong
1st Grande Boucle Feminine
1st Stage 1
1st Stage 2
1st Thuringen Rundfahrt
1st Stage 2
1st Stage 4a
1st Stage 4b
1st Stage 5
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
1st Magali Pache TT
1st Mountains Jersey, Tour of New Zealand
1st Best Young Rider, Giro del Trentino
3rd Road Race, Commonwealth Games, Melbourne
3rd UCI Road World Championships
1st UCI world rankings
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
1st Grande Boucle Feminine
1st Tour Geelong
1st Tour Alfredo Binda
1st GP Costa Etrusca
2nd Overall, UCI Women's Road World Cup
1st Ronde van Vlannderen
1st Geelong
2nd GP de Plouay
2nd La Flèche Wallonne Féminine
4th Berner-Rundfahrt
5th La Coupe du Monde Montréal
7th Ronde van Drenthe
12th Open de Suède Vargarda
34th Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt
4th Magali Pache TT
2008 (Team Halfords Bikehut)
1st Road Race, 2008 Olympic Games
11th Time Trial, 2008 Olympic Games
1st Road Race, UCI Road World Championships
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
4th 2008 Tour de l'Aude Cycliste Féminin
1st Stage 1
10th Stage 4
7th Stage 6
3rd Stage 9
4th Iurreta-Emakumeen Bira
1st Stage 2
1st Stage 3b
1st Giro del Trentino Alto Adige – Südtirol
1st Stage 2
1st  GBR British National Road Race Championships
3rd British National Road Race Championships
2nd Fleche Wallone World Cup
Emakumeen Bira Stage Race
1st Stage3
5th Commonwealth Games Road Race
4th Road Race, UCI Road World Championships
2nd British National Road Race Championships
4th Road Race, UCI Road World Championships
1st Stage 5, Giro d'Italia Femminile
1st Stage 5, Energiewacht Tour


  1. Clemitson, Suze (5 November 2015). "P Is For Peloton: The A-Z Of Cycling". Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Nicole Cooke". The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Nick Hope (14 January 2013). "Nicole Cooke attacks cheats as she retires from cycling". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Cooke bows out with blast at drug cheats". The Daily Telegraph. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
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  13. Cooke, Nicole (4 June 2015). "Women's Sport Week: Nicole Cooke on fair pay & corruption". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
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  24. Chris Henry and Jeff Jones (27 June 2004). "Nicole Cooke is back". Cycling News. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
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  31. "Cooke goes top of world rankings". BBC Sport. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
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  40. Laura Weislo and Susan Westemeyer (17 September 2007). "Knee surgery for Cooke". Cycling News. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
  41. "Welsh cyclist Nicole Cooke confident of recovery".
  42. Simon Turnbull (19 October 2008). "Nicole Cooke: I hated cycling, I was in pain, I wanted to quit". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  43. "24th Tour de l'Aude – 2.2". Cycling News. 25 May 2008.
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  45. Andy Nicolson (29 September 2008). "Cooke, the team, the bike and the sponsor". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
  46. "Road Cycling Worlds 2008: Women's Road". BBC Sport. 27 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
  47. David Arthur (28 October 2008). "Nicole Cooke book signing". Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  48. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58929. p. 15. 31 December 2008.
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  50. Rob Maul (12 February 2009). "Nicole Cooke wins Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  51. "Cooke wins unprecedented tenth title". Cycling Weekly. 27 June 2009.
  52. "Nicole Cooke calls for women's sport to have equal coverage on BBC". BBC News. 20 March 2014.
  53. Williams, Richard (1 August 2014). "Nicole Cooke a force for good and a thorn in side of cycling's big wheels". The Guardian.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nicole Cooke.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Australia Anna Millward
UCI Women's Road World Cup Champion
Succeeded by
Australia Oenone Wood
Preceded by
Australia Oenone Wood
UCI Women's Road World Cup Champion
Succeeded by
Netherlands Marianne Vos
Preceded by
Italy Marta Bastianelli
World Road Race Champion
Succeeded by
Italy Tatiana Guderzo
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