Olympic champ Cooke calls for 'Team Sky for women'
Female squad would strengthen perception of women's pro cycling
A call for a female equivalent of Team Sky has been made by GB Olympic champion Nicole Cooke.
Cooke was speaking as she prepared for her return to racing later this month. She has been dealing with uncertainty over a sponsor, the German team Nürnburger, and while she's now fixed up with the Great Britain squad for the rest of the season, she acknowledges that others might not have the options she has.
"There is definitely the possibility of a Sky equivalent [for women]," Cooke told the Guardian. "It could fit really well, because there is strength in depth in British cycling. You could have a very competitive trade team with British riders. It has come up in discussions with the team around me. It's something that is being discussed. I don't know whether it will happen."
Two of the strongest teams in women's cycling, Cervélo and Columbia, are run as offshoots of leading men's professional squads.
Last summer, her team of the time, Vision One Racing, went out of existence as she was building up to defend her world road race title and the Nürnberger deal fell through in early February
“I trained in Australia for two months from the beginning of November, and that went really well,” she said. “There was some uncertainty over the team, not knowing how things stood, and it took some time to sort out. But as Olympic champion and a former world champion I always knew there would be options, so I was able to handle the situation differently to others who didn't have so many options. They were the ones who had a hard time."
She's now agreed an arrangement that will enable her to spend the season racing internationally with the Great Britain squad, made up largely of riders from the under-23 academy.
"There might be riders dropping in for different races, but it's mainly the academy girls, five or six of them,” she said. “Having a programme together for the bulk of the season fits together, because we can do the World Cup races in spring, then I will take a break in July when they focus on the European track championships, and then we will coincide again in the build-up to the World Championships."