Nicole Cooke on the Kapelmuur

Portrait of a Hardwoman: Nicole Cooke

Portrait of a Hardwoman: Nicole Cooke

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Cycling is hard; I’m not leaking any trade secrets with that statement, but it feels good to say it anyway. No Cyclist avoids suffering, but of those who venture into our world, there are some who seek to limit it while others choose to embrace it. Then we have a handful of characters who consider playing Whack-a-Mole with the Man with the Hammer to be good sport, particularly when playing the part of Mole.

In the current climate, it’s impossible not to consider the impact doping has on our sport. I, for one, have happily watched professional bike racing and delighted in the spectacle for close to thirty years, aware to varying degrees that doping is part and parcel of that spectacle I enjoy so much. In the last decade, I’ve gone so far as to assume most – if not all – riders are doping; a regrettable situation but one which has done little to temper my enthusiasm for the sport. After all, when all the riders are doing it, then surely what we’re watching is a level playing field of willing participants who understand how the game is played. Cheaters cheating cheaters hardly seems like cheating.

It’s all beautifully romantic so long as all the riders are doping. This is not the case, however; there are those who are racing clean against dopers. These riders are truly being cheated out of a livelihood by a culture which not only turns a blind eye to cheating, but who ostracize those who don’t. These riders who refuse to dope have few voices and last week, the sport lost one of the most forward of these with the retirement of Nicole Cooke.

Nicole has been a force in Women’s Cycling since turning Pro in 2002. A powerful rouleur, she excelled in every terrain and in any race format, but was nigh unbeatable in uphill finishes, taking a total of three La Flèche Wallonne Féminine titles, each of which required such a large laying of The V that it brought her to collapse. I was aware of her as much as anyone can be with the state of the coverage of Women’s Cycling, but she became one of my favorite riders after reading a piece in Rouleur about my favorite hub manufacturer, Royce. In the article, Royce’s Cliff Polton described being at a trade show when a young girl better described as a ball of loosely-contained energy bounded up on his booth and started asking about bottom bracket axles and wondering aloud if he could help her achieve her goal of becoming the wolds most dominant female cyclist.

Given what I understand of her personality, I get the feeling it was more like executing a plan than achieving a goal.

Cooke raced at the top of her sport for thirteen years; she scaled the heights of achievement with wins in every major race on the calendar including the Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen, La Fleche, the Giro d’Italia Femminile and Grand Boucle (women’s Tour de France), the Olympic Road Race, and the World Championship Road Race. What’s more, she accomplished it while remaining staunchly anti-doping to the point that she faced sackings for refusing doping products.

Anyone who is a fan of Cycling should read Nicole’s retirement statement – I could never do it justice here. My personal hopes for the Pharmstrong Legacy is that it yields a a blood letting in the UCI and that the energy it spends on covering up its own corruption goes instead into promoting Women’s Cycling.

I’m sad to see Nicole go. Yet, for a rider who thrived in the hardest conditions and who unyieldingly stuck to her principles, I find it very fitting that the final two wins of her career came in Stages V of the Giro Femminile and Energiewacht Tour, respectively. Bravo, Nicole.

Here is the finale of her last Giro stage win:

// La Vie Velominatus // Look Pro // Racing // The Hardmen // Tradition

  1. @Chris

    @Marcus

    @Chris don’t try to be friends now you Pommy cunt

    You lot use cunt in the same way that you use mate, without the benefit of pronunciation it can be hard to tell whether its a term of endearment or an insult.

    Don’t worry though, I managed to make it through four years of living in Australia without making any friends so I don’t see why I should let my guard down now.

    Remember that profanity is the weak mind’s attempt to express itself forcefully.

    Ah, who am I kidding? I’m weak, my mind’s weak… profanity as a first language is all I have going for me.

    As long as its been brought up, though, we’d probably all do well to reduce the usage of that particular word just a hair. If you must use it, spell it Irish like koont or NZedish like kint, Strayan like cunzor.

  2. @strathlubnaig

    @Chris

    @Marcus

    @Chris don’t try to be friends now you Pommy cunt

    You lot use cunt in the same way that you use mate, without the benefit of pronunciation it can be hard to tell whether its a term of endearment or an insult.

    Don’t worry though, I managed to make it through four years of living in Australia without making any friends so I don’t see why I should let my guard down now.

    ha ha, yes, in Scotland they use the C word as an adjective too, as in “I got a cunting puncture today”

    Is that like a gash in the tire?

  3. @Marcus

    @Chris oh yes and if you object to races with multiple finishing circuits I guess you must despise every Workd Champs and Olympic parcours?

    We didn’t teach you much in your time out here did we?

    To be honest, I don’t find them to be the most exciting of races but at least the participants tend to be on form rather than try to work of their Christmas pudding. The prize makes them a bit more interesting as well.

    @frank Totally get the whole weak mind thing, one just has to communicate on the level of the lowest common denominator. I’ll tone it down a bit though.

    @Sauterelle

    @strathlubnaig

    @Chris

    @Marcus

    @Chris don’t try to be friends now you Pommy cunt

    You lot use cunt in the same way that you use mate, without the benefit of pronunciation it can be hard to tell whether its a term of endearment or an insult.

    Don’t worry though, I managed to make it through four years of living in Australia without making any friends so I don’t see why I should let my guard down now.

    ha ha, yes, in Scotland they use the C word as an adjective too, as in “I got a cunting puncture today”

    Is that like a gash in the tire?

    Beautifully done. N i p p l e   L u b e.

  4. @frank For the record, and since the details are most important Frhonnnk, Cunzor’s a kiwi word not Strine. A c followed by the letters aaaarrrrnnntt is the traditional Aussie pronunciation, while in the recent past I’ve been a fan of the Wiggins option, involving asterisks.

  5. Nicole Cooke’s gold at Beijing was the highlight for me of a great games. I thought she’d bottled it going in to that last corner, she seemed to back off but she was really just backing herself fornthe uphill finish. I’d been up all night with my new born son, finally got him to sleep with about 10k to go then undid my good work, woke the poor little guy up as a roared at my tv and Ms Cooke across the line. Brilliant

  6. Australia has a new national anthem!

  7. @Sauterelle a little too close to the bone.

    On this Australia Day my on bike survey of my countrymen found interesting results. Over the space of 5.5 hours there was a 100% correlation between cars displaying Australian flags and drivers who acted like….. Farking Carnts.

  8. Sitting on couch after ride watching the TDU and reading Velominati. I’ve got it all, pros cranking it up on TV and some quality blue language on Velominati, you cunts. The only thing missing is Heinrich and his bad hair getting ready to finish second on the stage.

  9. @Marcus

    @Sauterelle a little too close to the bone.

    On this Australia Day my on bike survey of my countrymen found interesting results. Over the space of 5.5 hours there was a 100% correlation between cars displaying Australian flags and drivers who acted like….. Farking Carnts.

    Nah, fuck that.

    Spot on in my opinion.

  10. My favourite thing that Australia has given the world…

    sneaky nuts

    http://youtu.be/-XGR3f4A3Mw

  11. @motor city

    My favourite thing that Australia has given the world…

    sneaky nuts

    http://youtu.be/-XGR3f4A3Mw

    Damn, you know it must be bad when the country won’t allow it to be uploaded.  Never had that “unable to upload” message before.

  12. @Lebowski

    Nicole Cooke’s gold at Beijing was the highlight for me of a great games. I thought she’d bottled it going in to that last corner, she seemed to back off but she was really just backing herself fornthe uphill finish. I’d been up all night with my new born son, finally got him to sleep with about 10k to go then undid my good work, woke the poor little guy up as a roared at my tv and Ms Cooke across the line. Brilliant

    Dude, that’s very undude like.  Be careful, there might have been a drink there.  Now excuse me while I go find a cash machine.

  13. Wow, a good article about an inspirational cyclist quickly turned into a very unpleasant and decidedly humourless shouting match. There are a lot of really strong and talented women in my cycling club. I’d be ashamed to give any of them a link to this article now.

  14. @Apex Nadir

    Wow, a good article about an inspirational cyclist quickly turned into a very unpleasant and decidedly humourless shouting match. There are a lot of really strong and talented women in my cycling club. I’d be ashamed to give any of them a link to this article now.

    Give them a link to the speech then. Most definitely worth it.

  15. @Apex Nadir

    You haven’t been around here much have you? And I take far more offence at being called humourless as opposed to a carnt.

    Lighten up Francis

  16. @Marcus

    @Apex Nadir

    You haven’t been around here much have you? And I take far more offence at being called humourless as opposed to a carnt.

    Lighten up Francis

    I’ve been reading for a while, but that was my first comment. This thread crossed the line from banter to outright vulgarity long ago. It appears some people feel threatened by a talented female rider.

  17. @Apex Nadir

    The stupid convo – of which I was a willing participant – had nothing to do with wonen’s racing. It was all about swapping shit about the TDU. The convo moved off onto that tangent ages ago.

    Fair enough you don’t like the profanity but it had nothing to do with women’s racing.

  18. @Marcus

    @Apex Nadir

    The stupid convo – of which I was a willing participant – had nothing to do with wonen’s racing. It was all about swapping shit about the TDU. The convo moved off onto that tangent ages ago.

    Fair enough you don’t like the profanity but it had nothing to do with women’s racing.

    @Apex Nadir You’re taking it way too seriously and out of context. if you really have been lurking for a while I can’t believe you think THIS thread is vulgar.

    And I struggle to see any basis for the suggestions that people are somehow denigrating Nicole Cooke. The closest may have been my comments on the commercial aspects of women’s cycling but that’s not an attack on the people involved.

    Even I agree with Marcus on this one…. cue the apocalypse.

  19. I’m sure there is some weekly cunting badge we hand out here. Marcus has been doing a lot of heavy lifting today.

    Not sure what the rest of you ignorant pasty-skinned fat turds living in your fucked little snowcaves define as an interesting race? Maybe it needs a fucking Zamboni to get you interested.

    Gold I say, gold.

  20. @Apex Nadir

    @Marcus

    @Apex Nadir

    You haven’t been around here much have you? And I take far more offence at being called humourless as opposed to a carnt.

    Lighten up Francis

    I’ve been reading for a while, but that was my first comment. This thread crossed the line from banter to outright vulgarity long ago. It appears some people feel threatened by a talented female rider.

    Whilst it may have been childish and vulgar (I’ll concede the first but not the second), that had nothing to do with being threatened by female riders. It started with an assertion that if men’s racing included too many flat 116km stages a la TDU, it would be mens racing that lost sponsorship.

  21. Damned iPad.  Didn’t mean to post at that point.

    If you paid a little more attention, I think you’d soon realise that the people here hold women’s racing in very high regard. I cannot remember any comment that has been intended as a put down, even in an attempt at humour. There may well have been arguments that women’s racing should not be treated/ rewarded on an equal basis but those would be tend to be on the basis of simple market economics.

    Life is too short to feel ashamed about the use of a word, especially when it wasn’t you and you have no control over those using it. Don’t look at the word! Look at it’s context.

  22. @Apex Nadir

    If you ate wondering I still think both Chris’ are carnts

  23. @Marcus

    @Apex Nadir

    If you ate wondering I still think both Chris’ are carnts

    So do I!

  24. @Sauterelle

    Australia has a new national anthem!

    When did it switch from “All Australians Born Illegitimate”?

  25. women’s tour of qatar will be on http://www.en.aljazeerasport.tv/Live/channel/global 14.30 mecca time or 10pm sydney

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