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By John Wilcockson
A year ago in the road world’s at Plouay. France, the petite but powerful Nicole Cooke gave Britain a startling gold medal in the junior women’s road race. She expected to win, and in her press conference said that she was very upset that she hadn’t been allowed to ride at the Sydney Olympics -– she was too young.
Cooke was clearly a young woman who knew what she wanted and seemed determined to go places. This year, her rabid ambition took her to the world junior women’s cross-country title at Vail a few weeks ago, and on Tuesday morning in Lisbon, Portugal, she added a third rainbow jersey to her growing collection: the world junior women’s time trial championship.
Opening the 2001 road world’s, this time trial was held in dry conditions –- and luckily for last-starter Cooke, she finished her 11.7km effort just before a heavy rain shower sent spectators scurrying for cover.
The 18-year-old Brit was almost a second a kilometer faster than the runner-up, Natalia Boiarskaia of Russia, beating her by eight seconds, while another second back came Lithuanian Diana Elementaite.
Over one lap of the road race circuit, the course in the wooded Monsanto Park had a dozen corners and curves, and a couple of sharp climbs in the opening 5km. It was ideal terrain for Cooke, who has been racing with elite women all year, most recently as a guest member of the Acca Due O-HP team in Italy’s Tour of Tuscany stage race.
On Tuesday, she complete the 11.7km in 18:45, at an average of almost 38 kph — probably a speed faster than some of the 21 laps that the pro men will tackle on this course next Sunday.
Meanwhile, American Sarah Hammer turned in the strongest performance by a North American rider, covering the course in 19:24.27, 38.51 seconds shy of Cooke’s mark and good enough for 12th place. USA’s Magen Long finished in 30th at 20:28.97.
1. COOKE Nicole GBR (GB), 18:45.76;
2. BOIARSKAIA Natalia (RUS), 18:54.40;
3. ELMENTAITE Diana (LTU), 18:55.57;
4. BRONZINI Giorgia (I), 18:59.88;
5. BECKER Charlotte (G), 19:01.45;
6. SANDIG Madeleine (G), 19:01.65;
7. WLOSZCZOWSKA Maja (POL), 19:04.08;
8. KOEDOODER Vera (NL), 19:10.81;
9. INGELS Kathy (B), 19:15.48;
10. SERCUEEVA Svetlana (RUS), 19:15.93;
11. VZESNIAUSKAITE Modesta (LTU), 19:21.11;
12. HAMMER Sarah (USA), 19:24.27 ;
13. KNECHT Andrea (SWI), 19:30.24;
14. CRAWFORD Vanessa (AUS), 19:35.44;
15. SCHWAGER Patricia (SWI), 19:38.14;
16. ZUGNO Anna (I), 19:38.15;
17. TVETER Helene (NOR), 19:39.66;
18. SKAWINSKA Emilia (POL), 19:54.22;
19. DE GOEDE Suzanne (NL), 19:59.06;
20. EMERY Dianne (SA), 20:03.06;
21. DOLINSKA Katarina (SVK), 20:04.47;
22. BROWN Katie (AUS), 20:04.79;
23. CASTRO GOMEZ Laura (COL), 20:16.12;
24. PARRA CONSTANTE Maria (ECU),20:17.64;
25. ANDREASEN Mette Fischer (DK), 20:18.32;
26. HUERTA BARRON Monica (MEX),20:19.45;
27. OVCHARENKO Nina (UKR), 20:25.14;
28. TELLETXEA LOPEZ Naiara (SP), 20:26.89;
29. SCHOBER Bernadette (A), 20:27.88;
30. LONG Magen (USA), 20:28.97;
31. VANDROMME Sharon (B), 20:43.74;
32. LEBLANC Genevieve (CAN),20:48.74;
33. MATA BLANCO Ana Isabel (SP), 20:54.44;
34. YORSTEN Laura (CAN),20:59.20;
35. BAUD St‚phanie (F),21:00.89;
36. PALCHYNSKA Tatyana (UKR), 21:14.07;
37. SHARAKOVA Tatsiana (BLR), 21:26.84;
38. (F),GIADAKI Persefoni (GRE), 21:27.98;
39. TATIDI Stiliani (GRE), 22:10.26;
40. JOHANSSON Emma (SWE), 26:19.93;