Cooke can come good
Champion insists she is ready for her defence
Last Updated: July 28, 2012 4:22pm
Nicole Cooke: champion in Beijing four years ago
Great Britain's women's road race coach Chris Newton has tipped defending champion Nicole Cooke to show her best form in Sunday's road race.
The 29-year-old from Swansea won gold by the Great Wall of China in Beijing four years' ago and the World Championships later that year, but has been in indifferent form of late.
Lizzie Armitstead was the nominated leader at last September's World Championships in Copenhagen and after a disappointing finish there was a public spat with Cooke.
Both Armitstead and Cooke insist the incident and subsequent fall-out is behind them and one of the strengths of the team of four, which also includes Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin, is the options within it as a Briton seeks glory.
Women's road coach Chris Newton said: "We have Lizzie and Nicole as the two main riders for the team.
"We're looking for results, whether it will be Lizzie or Nicole. We've got Nicole, former champion, to use. She will be given the rein of attacking and riding from an aggressive point of view.
"If that succeeds, we're very happy for Nicole to go for glory and ride for that win."
Newton admitted Cooke's selection required "careful consideration" after a slow start to the season, but expects her to perform in Sunday's 140-kilometre race.
He added: "In past big occasions, Nicole does raise her game and she's such a competitor. She can really cause some damage in that race.
"The other nations either respond to that or they don't. If they do respond to it, Lizzie's sitting pretty. If they don't Nicole's like 'here we go'. On Sunday we'll see Nicole's in the right place."
Cooke said: "I haven't had my best form, but I think things are coming round well now for race day. We know we're one of the strong nations in cycling now.
"This is another fantastic opportunity for us all to show what we're capable of."
Only five nations, including Britain, have the full complement of four riders.
"The control of the race, how it will pan out, is very difficult," Newton added.
"We've got to take that into consideration.
"If it came down to a sprint, Lizzie is the leader. But Lizzie is not in the same league as Cav (Cavendish) is in the men's road race.
"You take Cav to the finish and you're guaranteed a win, pretty much.
"It's fair to say that Lizzie's not in that category at the moment."
Armitstead herself favours an aggressive race which would produce a select group at the finish.
"For us it's fairly obvious that the best option is an open tactic," the 23-year-old from Otley said. We'll race the race aggressively, because that suits us all.
"Most people are going to be watching (Holland's) Marianne Vos. She is going to be heavily marked.
"That will be an advantage for us. We've got four cards that we can play and nobody knows what's going to happen."