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Montreal World Cup - CDM

Canada, June 2, 2007

Cooke returns, but can she break her duck?

By Greg Johnson

The lineup (L-R): Emily Roy (City of Montreal), Daniel Manibal (event CEO),
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
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Britain's Nicole Cooke heads into this weekend's Montreal World Cup off the back of a stellar season-opening, which has seen the 24 year-old take six UCI wins to date. But despite her success in recent years, the Montreal World Cup has been one event which has escaped Cooke's growing palmares.

Cooke has come close to victory in the Canadian race on both occasions she's contested it, the most recent of which was at last year's race. In the 2006 edition, Cooke, then riding for Univega, was out sprinted by former World Champion Judith Arndt (T-Mobile) and had to settle for second in the one-on-one sprint.

Her previous attempt, in 2003 was a different story, with Canadian Geneviève Jeanson, who retired from the sport after receiving a two year ban for testing positive to EPO at 2005's Tour de 'Toona, taking an impressive 11 second victory over Cooke in the uphill finish..

Trixi Worrack (Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung), fresh
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
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The World Cup leader enters this weekend's race well rested - having not raced since the series' last round, Switzerland's Tour de Berne. Cooke was originally slated to ride for her Raleigh Lifeforce squad at the Tour de l'Aude in France last month, but instead chose to sit out the event.

While Cooke skipped France, her main rivals, namely Arndt, and Marianne Vos (Team DSB Bank), increased both their preparation and palmares at l'Aude. Arndt held the yellow jersey for the majority of the event, considered the toughest in women's cycling, while 20 year-old speedster Vos took four stage victories in her first attempt at the event.

The trio, Cooke, Arndt and Vos, are clearly at their peak, making this weekend's World Cup and ensuing Le Tour du Grand Montréal an exciting prospect.

T-Mobile Girls watch the press conference
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
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"It's one of my favourite races," Arndt said. "I look forward to coming every year, even if I'm a bit tired from the Tour de l'Aude, which finished last Sunday."

While Arndt is always a worthy opponent, the real threat to a breakthrough victory could come from Vos. The women's road and cyclo-cross World Champion has taken the professional cycling world by storm in the past 12 months, and is an unknown on the Montreal circuit where the race is held.

Additionally Vos has declared her intensions to threaten what has to date been Cooke's stranglehold on the women's UCI road rankings. The Netherlands' Vos has already taken over the road rankings lead, just 0.67 of a point ahead of Cooke, while she also reduced the Brit's World Cup lead from 76 to 56 points in Switzerland.

After finishing third place in last year's event, world time trial champion Kristin Armstrong returns to World Cup at this weekend's race. The TEAm Lipton rider spent the early stages of 2007 recovering, after having Arthroscopic surgery on her knee in February. Armstrong's return to the World Cup comes with a bigger goal in mind, the American hoping to defend her crown at this year's world championships in Germany.

Event launch photography

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Images by Mitch Friedman/www.mitchophoto.com