With just one stage left to race, Nicole Cooke (Raleigh-Lifeforce) is set to repeat her 2006 win in the Women?s Tour de France ? known officially as La Grande Boucle Feminine. Cooke and her Raleigh-Lifeforce squad are currently dominating proceedings, with wins in all the stages since the race start – the latest being on Staturday and going to Briton Tanja Slater ? and the top three places on general classification.
Overall Cooke leads by 40 seconds over team-mate Priska Doppman of Switzerland, with another Raleigh team-mate Karin Thurig in third place at 1-15. The Welshwoman moved into the lead after winning Friday?s time trial in Ambes.
?We?re having an awesome race, the team?s won every stage possible and things are looking very good overall.? Cooke told CW after Saturday?s stage. ?On a personal level my condition?s great and as a squad we’re all going well.?
Cooke?s team-mate Slater took Saturday?s win after bridging across mid-stage on the 92 kilometre hilly trek from Bergerac to Casteljaloux with three other riders to a lone breakaway.
?She then decided they weren?t going fast enough and moved away alone for the win.? Cooke, who finished safely in the main bunch, added.
Sunday?s final stage of the five-day event is by no means like the final easy leg of the men?s Tour de France into Paris. Instead the riders tackle the Tourmalet in a short, viciously difficult trek through the Pyrenees from Cauterets to Arreau.
?I don?t know the climb but I?m confident.? Cooke said. ?We?ve got a detailed breakdown of the percentages of the Tourmalet. So as ever on the mountains, it?ll be a question of finding the right rhythm to climb it successfully and taking it from there.?