What a difference four years can make. In Beijing, Nicole Cooke was the dominant rider in Women’s Cycling, taking wins in every important race on the Women’s calendar for several years running. Fast finish, good in the hills, good against the clock, she helped give context to what we mean by the term “all rounder”.
Four years on, she’s been struggling with injury and the pressures of forming her own team which has resulted in the inevitable reduction in results. But don’t count her out just yet; she has been showing some form already this year and during the last Olympic year, she burst into form for the event to take Gold. Add to that the motivation a British rider is sure to feel racing at her home Games, and you’d be a fool to leave her off your list of considerations.
Be that as it may, she’s facing up to a strong field. Kristen Armstrong dropped out of the Cascade Classic (while leading it) in order to prepare for the games. Not to mention Marianne Vos, who dominated the Giro last month – or Giorgia Bronzini, whose website I find vaguely frightening.
Review the route and study the weird, paged roster if you like pretending that helps you, and get your picks in by 5am Pacific on Sunday. (If you find Time Zone Mathematics too complicated, just get your picks in by the time the giant countdown timer in the banner goes to zero), regular One-Day VSP rules apply. Good luck.