17 Sep 2007

Wales star Nicole Cooke just missed out on a third World Cup title following the last race of the season on Sunday.

The Raleigh rider was pipped by Marianne Vos, who won the final sprint of the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt.

Cooke, 24, led her 20-year-old Dutch rival by 80 points prior to the race in Germany and would have taken the title had she finished second or third.

But the two-time World Cup winner from Wick, struggling with a knee injury, faded to 34th place in the sprint.

Cooke's lead would normally have proved sufficient but there were double points on offer in Nürnberg.

Vos, who rides for Team DSB Bank, eventually finished 70 points in front of Cooke.

Home riders finished second and third in Germany, with T-Mobile's Ina Teutenberg taking the runners-up spot and Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung's Regina Schleicher in third.

Cooke was told last week that she needed knee surgery and was unable to train in the build-up to the final race, but she decided to postpone the operation.

"I didn't want to gift this to Vos without a fight," she said. "It was a terrific ride by her, the pressure was on and she came up with the goods.

"On the day I just couldn't do anything more because of my knee injury. Marianne won and I must be very proud of my second place.

"I have had a terrific season with a number of wins. My highlight was winning La Grande Boucle for the second time, but I am disappointed with the final result as I wanted to be the first person to win the World Cup for the third time.

"Next year I will be back and I am determined to win it."

There was some consolation for Cooke, who was World Cup champion in both 2003 and in 2006.

Her Raleigh squad retained the team title, beating Team DSB bank by 13 points.

Cooke will fly to Britain, where she will have her knee operation, on Monday.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Nicole Cooke has been supported by the Sports Council for Wales' Elite Cymru programme - a National Lottery funded scheme designed to catepult talented athletes to the top.