Nicole Cooke took her 10th national title in front of a huge home crowd in Abergavenny today.

The Olympic and world champion was always the favourite for this race despite the ever-improving Emma Pooley.

The Cervelo rider, fresh from her victory in the Grande Boucle stage race, needed to distance herself from Cooke if she was going to win her first title. But Cooke isn’t the sort of rider you can just shake off, and after a quiet start to the season she’s started winning recently too.

In the end Cooke won the sprint comfortably from Lizzie Armitstead and Pooley after the three had simply ridden away from the rest of a peloton that just wasn’t on the same level.

Sadly it was Armitstead’s second place that then became the story of the day, and one that has completely overshadowed the result.

Armitstead is an under-23 rider, a category that has prizes awarded separately from the main event. In a bizarre interpretation of the rules, chief commissaire Colin Clews, ruled that because Armitstead was in the under-23 category, she wasn’t eligible to receive her silver medal, and Pooley was given second place.

Last year Joanna Rowsell won the under-23 category and rightly kept her bronze medal for the senior title, and Cooke has won both categories – and never been relegated from either – more times than we care to remember.

But Clews was adamant; “When you combine two championships as we have done; if somebody receives a premier award, such as a jersey in the U23, then she is no longer eligible to receive the medal in the elite competition.”

But as the rule hasn’t been enforced in recent times, should have been today? The crowd obviously didn’t think so as they booed the announcement, much to commentator Hugh Porter’s annoyance.

Cooke too was on Armitstead’s side, “As soon as the girls heard it, everyone was disappointed. No one wanted to take a medal that wasn’t theirs. We all wanted a fair result, and that’s what it was on paper.”

emma pooley, nicole cooke, cooke, national champs, 2009, british cycling, racing, cycle racing, abergavenny

Emma Pooley leads Nicole Cooke and Lizzie Armitstead (behind Cooke) on the finishing circuit in Abergavenny

British road race national championships (women)
1. Nicole Cooke (Vision 1)
in 3-34-00
2. Lizzie Armitstead (Lotto-Belisol)
3. Emma Pooley (Cervelo) at same time
4. Catherine Williamson (Fenixs) at 4sec
5. Katie Colclough (100% ME) at 1-00
6. Julia Shaw (Unattached) at same time
7. Nikki Harris (Flexpoint) at 3-20
8. Dannielle King (Vision 1) at 4-10
9. Lucy Martin (100% ME) at same time
10. Charlotte Colclough (100% ME) at same time

House wins men’s national championships after epic race in Wales

over-rules to reinstate Armitstead


wins junior road race title in Wales

  • blueryder

    Lizzie Armistead was stitched up by the pathetic rulers of british cycling.
    They think they can bend the rules as they see fit.
    What was good for last year should have stood this year.
    They don’t have any purpose without the riders.
    Its a bad advert for fair play in cycling.
    And hearing that senile oaf Hugh Porter being upset by the barracking is brilliant.
    He talks rubbish and is totally clueless.

  • Dan Gregory

    Armitstead is an Elite rider! She is over 18 too!

  • alan williams

    poor Lizzie armistead. The sport management in this country is a farce. Lizzie A must be so fed up at the moment and disillusioned with her sport. When will the likes of Colin Clews understand that sport is about competing to win and not political decision making. Hopefully over the coming days he will realise he has made a mistake and put the record straight. LIZZIE ARMISTEAD – SILVER

  • ian

    these petty-minded pedants are the reason the British public still aren`t getting on their bikes.Sad.

  • P.O’Ferrall

    Be consistent with the rules, and be sure riders know them well enough to understand that only one medal or placing will be given in each category before the race starts.

  • Angharad

    I was there, and it was great to see Nicole successfully defend her title. The mess with Lizzie’s U23 jersey and the silver medal almost overshadowed the whole thing. But then, cycling seems brilliant at cocking things up. How come desk jockeys get knighthoods and OBEs, when Nicole who is the most succesful living British cyclist, only got an MBE? Presumably women athletes aren’t worth as much as men, they give out knighthoods willy-nilly for them.

  • Lois

    Huh? Is that true, that Lizzie doesn’t get both medals? Are you sure that what you’ve reported is accurate? Does that mean she doesn’t get any prizemoney etc attaching to second either? Does it mean that the women’s and U23 race was on the same route at the same time for the first time and in the past it’s been on separate routes?

    Puzzled Punter