Former Olympic and world champion Nicole Cooke spoke to Rebecca Charlton at the launch of the Trois Etapes Pro-Am Cycle Series.

Since retiring from professional cycling in January 2013, Nicole Cooke has spent much of the last year away from the media spotlight. The former Olympic and world champion has returned to university to study for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). “I’m loving it, it’s opening up new horizons, It’s great to give some theory, structure and knowledge in terms of bringing everything together with the experiences I’ve had over the last 10 or 15 years,” says Cooke.

“I had to give up a lot when I was racing and I was very happy to do that. So when I stopped I knew it was the start of a new phase in life. I wanted to have new challenges that were beyond cycling and yes, the competitive streak still comes out every now and again but I think that’s part of me!”

Cooke has also been busy writing her autobiography, which is due out in July. “I started it last year and so that’s been a massive volume of work but I’m pleased with the stage it’s at now, it still needs a bit of editing but it will be out in the summer. So it hasn’t been quiet!”

CW asks whether she had the opportunity to say everything she wanted upon exiting the sport. “No, I couldn’t,” she says. “I think seven pages was quite a lot at once at the time. There were things that I had to really focus on as the main points I wanted to make then, at the point of retiring, and I’m pleased I did those then. And yes, there are now other things that in a book you can develop over much more space. So there will be some other things coming out as well.”

Nicole Cooke will be captaining a team at the Trois Etapes Tour (7-10 August 2014). The Trois Etapes is the world’s only Pro-Am Cycle Series and is designed to give riders the chance to experience team cycling under race conditions, with the full support that a pro would have in a Grand Tour.

For more information about the Trois Etapes, please visit www.troisetapes.org