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Cold warm-up for Wales

03 Mar 06 01:17
Nicole Cooke competing in the Women's World Road Race Championship in Madrid, 2005. 

Nicole Cooke competing in the Women's World Road Race Championship in Madrid, 2005. 

Welsh Cycling champion Nicole Cooke won’t be worried if the Melbourne weather turns cold during the defence of her Road Race gold - because she’s been warming up for the Games in an igloo.

Cooke, who has been named in the nine-person Cycling team from Wales, will defend the title she won in Manchester at just 19 years of age.

She will ride the Botanic Gardens course filled with determination to overcome an awkward build-up, which sees her competing without other Welsh riders in the women’s team, and coming off a broken collarbone sustained after a heavy fall in December.

And then there was a cold welcome to her new Swiss-based cycling team.

"We had our team get-together - about 18 of us - in Switzerland after Christmas,” she told the Western Mail. “We were all wrapped up in thermal trousers and thermal coats and they walked us higher up into the mountains to where there was an igloo built into the side of the snow.”

Cooke said the team-bonding exercise helped her relax and get in the mindset needed for her title defence in Melbourne.

“I'm really looking to try and improve on my silver from last year's world championship, I want to go for the World Cup and the Commonwealth (Games) fits perfectly to peak at the start of the springtime,” she said. “Melbourne is right up there in my priorities.”

While Cooke will be the only female Welsh cyclist at the Games, big things are expected from her male team mates in Melbourne, with rising star Geraint Thomas gunning for a medal finish in the Road competition.

He’ll be joined by Julian Winn, Dale Appleby, Yanto Barker, Robert Partridge and Steven Roach on the Road.

The Track specialists on the team include Matt Brammeier and Ross Sander, while Roach will look for gold in the Mountain Bike competition.

Kuala Lumpur and Manchester Games veteran Julian Winn will coach the team in Melbourne, and Team Manager Phil Jones is confident that he has a winning team on his hands.

"We have selected the strongest possible team for the Games - one that will pose a real threat to the rest of the field when they take to the tracks and roads of Melbourne,” he said. “These athletes have already proven their potential on the world stage and are more than capable of proving their potential with podium positions.”

Three Cycling disciplines will be contested at the Commonwealth Games, with Track Cycling at the Multi Purpose Venue from 16-19 March, Mountain Biking at the State Mountain Bike Course on 23 March and the Road Race capping off the Games on 26 March.

Ticketing LogoBuy Cycling Track tickets now.

Ticketing LogoRoad Cycling is free and non ticketed.

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