Nicole Cooke is world cycling champ

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As of Saturday, there should be no question as to the best female cyclist in the world.

Nicole Cooke of Great Britain won the women's World Championship road race in Varese, Italy, earning the right to wear the rainbow colored jersey for the next year. That's in addition to the Olympic gold medal she won for women's road race at the Summer Games in Beijing in August.

Of the six US women in the 86-mile race around Varese, Amber Neben finished the highest at 22nd place, 1:46 behind the winner. Neben won the world championship in individual time trial on Wednesday.


The 2008 UCI World Championships end Sunday with the men's road race.

The US cyclist with the best chance for victory, Levi Leipheimer, dropped out a couple of days ago after finishing 4th in the individual time trial for men.

Other US men scheduled to race are Tyler Farrar of Wenatchee, Washington, Steven Cozza of Petaluma, Craig Lewis of Spartanburg, S.C., and Lucas Euser, Napa.

Free online video-streaming of the men's and women's road races and men's and women's time trials at Varese, Italy, will be provided by Universal Sports. See the schedule online for World Championship updates.

Women's race

In the women's race, Cooke joined a small breakaway during the final lap. Her sprint at the finish bested Marianne Vos of the Netherlands (the 2006 world champion) and Judith Arndt of Germany (the 2004 world champion).

Here's how the US women in the race fared:

22 Amber Neben, 1:47 behind
39 Kristin Armstrong, 4.56 behind
67 Kori Kelley Seehafer, 6:11 behind
Christine Thorburn, did not finish  
Brooke Miller, did not finish
Katheryn Curi Mattis, did not finish.

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