COOKE FINISHES THIRD OVERALL IN GRAND BOUCLE

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Two hard days' riding in the Alps saw Great Britain?s Nicole Cooke finish third overall in the Grand Boucle.

Riding for the Swift Racing team, Cooke launched several strong attacks on the final 83 kilometre stage which tackled the Izoard and Montgenevre climbs before a summit finish at the Sestriere ski station in Italy.

After the bunch regrouped at the foot of the Sestriere climb, Cooke went away again - but with Christiane Soeder (Cervelo Lifeforce), second overall and the team-mate of race leader Karin Thurig, chasing and finally getting across.

Cooke attemped to shake Soeder off, but eventually was beaten for the stage by the Austrian, who wrenched the overall lead from her team-mate Thurig - partly thanks to the final time bonus - to win overall by 12 seconds. Cooke placed third, at 2-29.

?It was a tough route, and Nicole knew she had to go for all-out aggression on this last stage, she gave it absolutely everything and it was close right up to the finish,? Swift Racing team manager Stefan Wyman told Cycling Weekly?s website.

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