Pooley overcomes champ Cooke to clinch national title

Norwich's Emma Pooley yesterday ended Nicole Cooke's nine-year reign as Britain's road race champion by clinching the national title in a shortened race in Pendle, Lancashire.

Norwich's Emma Pooley yesterday ended Nicole Cooke's nine-year reign as Britain's road race champion by clinching the national title in a shortened race in Pendle, Lancashire.

The 27-year-old, left, Cervelo Test Team rider made a crucial break just metres from the line to cruise to a clear win, leaving Lizzie Armitstead in second, with current Olympic champion Cooke having to settle for third.

Armitstead, 21, was also crowned the Under-23 champion for a second successive year, with Katie Colclough in second and Emma Trott third.

The race had to be shortened from eight laps of a 12km circuit to four after a bad pile-up on the first lap caused a restart and 14 withdrawals.


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On the second attempt, Pooley was quickly joined by Cervelo team-mates Armitstead and Sharon Laws in a four-woman breakaway with Cooke and the leading group establishing a 40-second lead.

The gap was largely maintained throughout, although attacks were frequent as each individual rider looked to break free.

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Eventually, on the final lap, Cooke's resolve broke as Pooley, keen to avoid a sprint finish, jumped free just a couple of hundred metres from the finish line to secure a clear run home for the title.

That left Armitstead and Cooke facing a sprint finish for second, and it was track star Armitstead who clinched it ahead of the 10-time national champion.

'It's a tough circuit and we really had to race from the gun,' said Pooley after being handed the national champion's jersey.

'It's such a big thing the national championships and you can really feel so proud when you pull the jersey on and I'm really looking forward to racing in it over the next year.

'I knew I had to get clear before a sprint to stand a chance, and every climb I tried to get rid of her, but it was very tough.

'I had the element of surprise at the end because no-one really expected me to attack so near the finish on a flat.'

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