February 25, 2024

On this day in 2013: Nicole Cook retires from cycling

On this day in 2013, former Olympic road race champion Nicole Cook retired from cycling with immediate effect.

Cook was a pioneer of cycling in Britain, and in 2008 became the first rider, male or female, to win Olympic and world road race gold in the same year.

Announcing the decision to call time on her 13-year career, the 10-time British champion said: “My time in this sport is over. I am very happy with my career.

“I have many, many happy memories of what has been my life's work since I was 12 years old. I have won every race and more than I ever dreamed of winning.”

However, her speech did not shy away from the dark side of cycling, addressing at length the doping scandals prevalent in the sport as well as the barriers to cycling.

Cook, who retired from playing at the age of 29, was a four-time world junior champion.

After turning professional, she won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, before becoming the youngest rider to win the Giro d'Italia – aged 21 – in 2004 after winning the 2003 World Cup.

Cook won Britain's first gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in torrential rain near the Great Wall of China – the first medal won by a Welsh athlete since 1972 – and backed that up with World Championships gold later that year in Italy.

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Four years later, she was part of the team as Lizzie Armitstead won road race silver for Britain's first medal at London 2012.

Cook thought she could put four years behind her and defend her title, but she finished only 31st.

Following her retirement, British Cycling chairman Brian Cookson said: “There is no doubt that Nicole was a pioneering force in women's cycling.”