Cycling: Cooke takes bronze after losing out in bunch sprint finish

Britain's Nicole Cooke had to settle for a bronze medal in the women's road race at the World Championships in Salzburg on Saturday as the Dutch teenager Marianne Vos added the world road title to her world cyclo-cross title.

Cooke, third in 2003 and second last year, finished third in a bunch sprint behind Vos and the German Trixi Worrack. Cooke had forced the pace on the penultimate lap of the hilly 132.2km course and had briefly gone clear with Vos and the Swiss rider Nicole Brandli. But the trio were pulled back in the last five kilometres, making a bunch sprint inevitable.

Vos, 19, finished in 3hr 20.26sec. A group of 15 broke away on the penultimate lap but Vos outsprinted her rivals in the closing metres.

"Marianne and I were working very hard in the break, but I don't think we were strong enough with the German squad chasing behind," Cooke said. "I'm very happy with my ride, because I know I was able to help shape the race all the way through."

Cooke has had a superb season, winning the women's World Cup, the prestigious Thüringen Rundfahrt and the Tour Feminin, the women's Tour de France, in July. The 23-year-old, who also took a Commonwealth bronze in March, finished fifth in the women's time trial event on Wednesday.

In yesterday's men's road race the Olympic road race champion, Paolo Bettini of Italy, won the title. The 32-year-old beat the German veteran Erik Zabel and the promising young Spaniard Alejandro Val-verde in a sprint finish after the three riders edged clear of the main field in the final kilometre.

The defending champion, the Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen, finished in ninth place.

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