Briton Nicole Cooke is in quietly optimistic mood about her chances of success in the World Championships women?s road race this afternoon.

“Although the Olympics was obviously my primary target this year I always planned to try and maintain form and race the World Championships as well,? Cooke said earlier in the week.

?Doubling up will be very difficult but I am in good shape. The GB team is strong and going well and we will all be racing hard.?

Great Britain will be fielding their strongest ever women?s team in the 138.8 kilometre event, consisting of eight laps of the Varese circuit. The race starts at 1 pm local time and is expeceted to finish four hours later.

Nor are Great Britain?s chances limited to Cooke: Emma Pooley, tenth in last year?s World Championships road-race (which Cooke did not ride), as well as Sharon Laws both have solid form.

But it is Cooke who – post her Olympic success – is one of the top favourites, along with Judith Arndt (Germany), local rider Noemi Cantele (Italy), Susanne Ljungskog (Sweden) and Marianne Vos (Holland).

“I came back pretty quickly from the Olympics and had a really good quiet week getting my head together and doing some nice light rides in Tuscany, a sort of working holiday if you like after all the excitement and the hard work that went in to Beijing,? Cooke said.

“Then it was back to Britain and Wales for all the celebrations when the GB team arrived back home and lots of media stuff including a shoot with Hello which was great.

“I could still be celebrating there have been so many invitations. But we got back to serious racing at the Tour of the Ardeche which went well for Emma Pooley, Sharon Laws and myself and we have put in some quality training as well since then.

“Our young riders Lizzie Amitstead and Jessica Allen are looking good and if the opportunity presents itself in the race we will take it. The field is very big and strong and I am expecting some demanding racing.?

ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2008

NEWS

GB gunning for medals in under-23 road race

Millar and Cummings disappointed with TT result

Thursday’s World Champs news

Millar and Cummings ready for Elite men’s time trial

World Champs men’s time trial course notes

Pooley and Laws talk before Worlds time trial

Pooley to use special time trial bars again

British under-23 TT riders finish out of the top 30

Daniel Martin selected for Irish under-23 worlds team

British team heads to Varese with genuine medal hopes

Cancellara to miss World Championships

Swift a close second in final race before Worlds

Rob Hayles on why he’s not riding the Worlds

GB Women’s Worlds team confirmed

British Worlds team starts to take shape

Geraint Thomas called up to Worlds team to replace Cavendish

Mark Cavendish pulls out of Worlds team

RACE REPORTS

Under-23 men’s road race: Colombian takes gold, Swift fourth

Men’s time trial: Grabsch grabs the win

Women’s time trial: America’s Amber Neben takes title

Under-23 time trial: report, results, photos

PHOTOS

Under-23 mena’s road race, by Graham Watson

Men’s time trial, by Luc Claessen

Women’s time trial, by Graham Watson

Under-23 men’s time trial

2007 World Champs: Men’s road race

2007 World Champs: Women’s road race

2008 WORLD CHAMPS GUIDE

Preview>>

TV coverage guide>>

Brits in the men’s world road race 1998-2007>>

Brits in the women’s world road race 1998-2007>>

Brits in the under-23 world road race 1998-2007>>

Britain’s road world championships medal winners>>