Cooke calls it a day

Nicole Cooke, the 2008 Olympic road race champion, has retired from cycling with immediate effect.

The 29-year-old, who also won the world road race title in 2008, becoming the first person to win both events in the same year, announced her decision in central London on Monday.

The Welshwoman said on "I am very happy with my career. I have many, many happy memories over what has been my life's work since I was 12. I have won every race and more that I dreamed I could win."

The 10-time British champion took the opportunity to criticise the UCI, cycling's world governing body, for failing to promote women's racing and for allowing drug cheats to prosper in men's racing.

Cooke was a trailblazer for cycling in Britain, particularly for women's racing. She won Britain's first gold of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in teeming rain by the Great Wall of China. It was the first of eight gold medals for Britain's cyclists.

Four years on she was part of the team as Lizzie Armitstead won road race silver for Britain's first medal of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Cooke had thought she could put an indifferent four years behind her and mount a defence of her title, but finished only 31st.

The time between Beijing and London was marked by a spat with Armitstead at the 2011 World Championships, when Cooke was accused of riding "for herself", rather than the team.

The duo put that behind them before again being team-mates at last summer's Olympics.