World Cup champion and women?s world number one Nicole Cooke has confirmed she will continue to ride for her Univega Pro Cycling team in 2007.
This season the 23-year-old Welshwoman reclaimed the individual World Cup title she first won in 2003 and led Univega to the team title in her first year with the Swiss outfit. With results like that Cooke knows she could not be in a better team and so has signed a new contract.
“I’ve re-signed for 2007 with the team,” Cooke told BBC Wales Sport on Saturday.
“It’s been a fantastic year. My aims were very ambitious to win the World Cup series, but everyone in the team believed in it and committed to that goal.”
The dominance of Cooke and her team allowed her to claim the World Cup title with a race to spare. She is already busy preparing for next season and intends to defend her World Cup title, as well as make another tilt at that elusive World Championships crown. She is doubly pleased that much of the financial backing for the Univega team is now being provided from Britain.
“It’s still taking shape in terms of the sponsors, but there’s been terrific support from British companies,” Cooke told the BBC.
“Raleigh have been providing the bikes and will take over the full bike sponsorship for next year. Then there’s the Newport-based company Lifeforce that is also taking on a bigger role. It’s fantastic that the team has recognised my role within the set-up and it’s been able to make the most of the opportunities that come with it.”
Having committed to the team for another year, Cooke has moved to the Swiss town of Lugano on the border with Italy. The hilly countryside surrounding her picturesque new home is ideal for training.
“It’s a very central location for my team and for the races here in Europe, that was the most important part,” Cooke said.
“After living and racing in Italy for a number of years, Lugano still has that Italian influence. It has a very nice climate for cycling, beautiful hills and beautiful roads.”
Cooke is expected to make her 2007 debut in Australia with strong focus on the early season World Cup races.