COOKE WINS WOMEN’S TOUR OF FLANDERS
Nicole Cooke (Raleigh-Lifeforce-Creation) made it two World Cup wins out of two on Easter Sunday in Belgium, winning the women’s Tour of Flanders with a powerful sprint ahead of Kazakhstan's Zoulfia Zabirova (Bigla).
Cooke attacked over the top of the penultimate climb of the Kapelmuur in front of thousands of cheering Flemish cycling fans and got across to her Raleigh-Lifeforce team mate Karin Thurig. Cooke went solo on the Bosberg climb but then went again after being caught by a small group of chasers.
Former winner Zabirova followed her when she attacked but was no match for the Welsh wonder in the sprint, with Cooke charging up the middle of the road to win with her arms in the air, two seconds clear of Zabirova. Holland's Marianne Vos (Team DSRbank) was third, five seconds behind, with Trixi Worrack (Nurnberger) fourth at seven seconds, and Karin Thurig (Raleigh-Lifeforce) fifth at nine seconds.
“It was a two-up sprint so I just chose the right moment and went for it,” Cooke told cyclingweekly.co.uk.
“This is one of the biggest classics of all time. I guess it’s one of the biggest races out there after the world championships. I’m very proud to have won it. It’s a great way to start April. Zabirova is a great champion and a previous winner and so I knew she’d be a danger today.”
Cooke hugged and thanked all her team-mates after the Raleigh-Lifeforce-Creation team dominated the race. Cooke has now won both World Cup races and with such impressive form, looks set to dominate the season-long competition yet again in 2007, having won it in 2006.