Nicole Cooke was forced to withdraw from the Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt stage race in Germany last week due to illness.

The reigning World and Olympic champion, who recently took the British national road title for the tenth time, began to feel unwell the week before the race began in Altenburg, complaining of a sore throat.

Nevertheless, Cooke started the race and was 32nd on the general classification after the third stage when her condition became more serious and she was forced to withdraw from the event.

“I am flying back home today to try and recover from the virus,” explained a disappointed Cooke yesterday.

It is unclear as yet as to the exact nature of the virus.

“I need to rest so that I can finish the season strongly,” said Cooke.

This year’s Thüringen-Rundfahrt was won by Linda Villumsen of the Columbia team, 0-33 ahead of Marianne Vos.