OLYMPIC champion Nicole Cooke could only finish sixth in the Womenâ€™s National Road Race Championship in North Yorkshire on Sunday after winner Sharon Laws proved a point following her London 2012 omission last week.
Laws was crowned champion after soloing to victory as theÂ 37-year-old from Cheltenham led a 1-2-3 for the AA Drink-Leontien.nl team, with Lizzie Armitstead taking second, just ahead of Emma Pooley at the end of the 107-kilometre event based around Ampleforth with Cooke finishing five nine behind Laws.
â€śI was expecting to go a bit better today,â€ť Cooke said.
â€śIt is a bit of a disappointment but in the big scheme of things I donâ€™t think itâ€™s a problem at all.
â€śIâ€™ve been working extremely hard in training and Iâ€™m working towards peaking at the Olympics.â€ť
Laws, who was dropped from the squad for the Olympic Games, felt she proved a point.
The 37-year-old put the disappointment of failing to make Britainâ€™s London 2012 team to one side to claim a solo success on the undulating 107-kilometre course through North Yorkshire.
Armitstead and Pooley, the 2011 and 2010 champions, respectively, completed a clean sweep of the podium for AA drink leontien.nl, but were more than one and a half minutes behind Laws, who attacked on the penultimate of seven laps of a 15km route.
Armitstead and Pooley are set to ride in the July 29 road race which finishes on The Mall, with Olympic champion Cooke and Lucy Martin also selected and Laws and Katie Colclough cut as the squad was reduced to four.
Martin (AA drink leontien.nl) did not finish on a course which was far removed from the Olympic circuit.
â€śI just wanted to prove something today,â€ť said Laws, who was in the British team when Cooke triumphed in Beijing in 2008.
â€śI just think Iâ€™m one of the strongest riders and I wanted to show that.â€ť
Laws was a late comer to the sport, first riding professionally in 2008, and was frustrated to miss the opportunity to ride in a home Games. She has no further margin for appeal.
She added: â€śI understand why the decision has been made, but I still think I could play a really good role in the race. I think Iâ€™m worthy of a place on the team.â€ť
While the victory was tinged with disappointment, Laws was delighted to win the right to wear the British championâ€™s white jersey with blue and red band for the next 12 months, just reward for her aggressive approach on the road.
â€śI never thought Iâ€™d get it so itâ€™s a really special occasion for me,â€ť she added.
Laws was in the initial break, which began on the opening climb of Yearsley Moor, with her two team-mates and Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea) before breaking away on the sixth lap to solo to the finish at Ampleforth Abbey.
Armitstead and Pooley paid tribute to Laws, so often their loyal team-mate.
Armitstead, who is likely to lead the British Olympic team, said: â€śSheâ€™s a deserved winner. I felt horrendous from start to finish. Itâ€™s part of the training at the moment.â€ť
Pooley added: â€śIt shows how strong she is and has been all year. Sheâ€™s proved a point in every race sheâ€™s done. The win is well deserved.â€ť
1 Sharon Laws (AA Drink Leontien.nl)
2 Lizzie Armitstead (AA Drink Leontien.nl)
3 Emma Pooley (AA Drink Leontien.nl)
4 Sarah Storey (Escentual For Viored)
5 Nikki Harris (Young Telenet)
6 Nicole Cooke (Team Faren Honda)
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