Nicole Cooke held of the challenge of Emma Pooley and Lizzie Armitstead to take her 9th British National Road Race Championship in a row in Avergavenny today and her 10th in total. Cooke outsprinted her two main rivals to take the title after 80 miles of racing over a tough course.
Catherine Williamson (Fenix) made an early solo break and after 30 miles she was joined by the three most powerful riders in the race: World and Olympic Road Champion, Nicole Cooke (Vision 1 Racing); World Team Pursuit champ, Armitstead (Lotto); and Olympic Time Trial Silver medallist and winner of last week's Tour de France Feminin, Emma Pooley.
As the race entered the closing stages both Pooley and Cooke attacked, neither decisively the only effect being to reduce the leading quartet to a trio as Williamson was dropped. In the end none of the leading trio was strong enough to escape the other two and so it all came down to a spring finish. That most suited the powerful Cooke who took the win from Armistead in second with Pooley in third.
However, the drama did not end with the racing in farcial scenes after the race Armitstead was told by race commissaire's that under international regulations she would have to give back her silver medal in the senior race because she had won the U23 title - which all the riders in the field under that age were also contesting. Armitstead was told the news while waiting for the senior presentation and was visible upset, the crowd weren't too pleased either and an embarrassed Emma Pooley went on to the podium to collect the silver.
Afterwards Pooley said that she would be giving the medal to Armitstead anyway, and British Cycling hastily convened a meeting at which justice was done and Armitstead reinstated. As Emma Pooley had already pointed out a precedent for this sort of thing already existed: Nicole Cooke won her first national title in 1999 when she became the youngest woman ever to do so - inevitably she was also U23 Champ, but that didn't lead to her being stripped of her senior title.
So some red faces, but common sense prevailed - what is interesting is that given Armitstead's form nobody had worked out beforehand what to do if she took one of the podium positions in the senior race.
Top 10 2009 Women' National Road Race Championship
1) Nicole Cooke, Vision 1
2) Lizzie Armitstead, Lotto
3) Emma Pooley, Cervelo
4) Catherine Williamson, Fenixs
5) Katie Colclough, 100% ME
6) Julia Shaw, Unattached
7) Nikki Harris, Flexpoint
8) Danni King, Vision 1
9) Lucy Martin, 100% ME
10) Charlotte Colclough, 100% ME
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.