Nicole Cooke has said that she was ?delighted? with finishing fifth in the Elite Women?s Time Trial on Wednesday?s opening World Championships event in Salzburg, Austria.

Riding in warm sunshine, Cooke finished 55 seconds behind American winner Kristin Armstrong in the 26.1 hilly kilometre event. Second at 25 seconds was defending champion Karin Theurig of Switzerland, and third Christine Thorburn – like Armstrong, from the United States – at 29 seconds.

?I gradually got into the right rhythm as the course went on.? Cooke said. ?I am very pleased because this is a tough discipline and compared with previous years I can see I am progressing fast.?

British team sources added that they had felt Cooke had finished exactly where she should have, neither bettter nor worse than expected, and were confident this result was a big step forward in the right direction for the Welshwoman.

Cooke will be the leader of the British Women?s team in the road-race on Saturday and has said that such a good ride in the time trial is a sign she will be on strong form for that challenge.

Later On Wednesday Ian Stannard finished the Under-23 Men’s Time Trial in 23rd place, 2-08 behind winner Domininque Cornu of Belgium. Stannard had a slowish start, and was 41st down on the best time at the first checkpoint after 10.1 kilometres, but gradually picked up to finish inside the top 25 on the 39.54 kilometre course.