Nicole’s love of cycling began when she was a child, on summer holidays spent touring the British countryside on tandems with her family. This grew in to desire to race, and the thrill of competitions soon led to the dream of becoming Olympic Champion and the idea of a professional career in cycling.
Nicole quickly rose through the British ranks, becoming Elite road race champion at just 16, the youngest ever Senior British Champion and the first of 10 British road titles. However, being the British Champion was not enough to be selected for the Sydney Olympics and a valuable opportunity was missed.
In October 2000 Nicole took an important step in winning the Junior World Road Race Championship, Britain’s first Gold medal at road racing for 18 years. The next season Nicole followed this up with 3 more World Titles, an unprecedented result in the Junior ranks taking the World Mountain Bike, Time Trial and Road Race titles.
After finishing her ‘A’ levels Nicole moved to live and race in Italy at the age of 18 and learnt from the best riders in the peloton like team-mate Joane Somarriba at her first team Deia-Pragma-Colnago. In her debut season in the Elite ranks in 2002, Nicole won 2 of her first 4 races and brought home Gold for her beloved Wales in the Road Race at the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester.
In 2003 Nicole won her first world cup the Amstel Gold Race, a few days later made it a classics double by winning the Fleche Wallone World Cup and taking the lead in the World Cup standings. Despite a career threatening crash that summer, Nicole recovered and went on to win the World Cup, becoming the youngest winner of the World Cup at 20 and finished the season with Bronze at the World Championships.
In 2004, Nicole became Britain’s first ever grand tour winner, and the youngest female winner of a grand tour, by winning the Giro D’Italia, sealing victory by winning the penultimate stage on the infamous Passo del Ghisallo. A few weeks later Nicole represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Athens finishing 5th. A huge disappointment at the time, but a valuable learning experience.
2005 saw more World Cup victories and another World Championship medal, a Silver in Madrid. Then, in 2006 Nicole went to her second Commonwealth Games in Melbourne as the sole Welsh representative and won Bronze, “as good as gold” in the circumstances. Back in Europe and supported by her new Swiss based Univega Team Nicole won 3 World Cup rounds and the World Cup Series overall. That summer, Nicole became the first Briton to win the Tour de France, riding in Yellow over the mythical Mont Ventoux and going on to win the stage and clinch her Tour de France victory. At the World Championships Nicole won Bronze and finished the season as World Number 1, also leading her Univega Team to No. 1 in the World Team rankings.
2007 started well, winning the Geelong World Cup and Tour of Flanders World Cup as well as defending her title in the Tour de France, winning it for the second time. Unfortunately Nicole’s season was cut short by a knee injury and after leading the world cup series from the first round, Nicole lost the series at the very last round.
In 2008 at the Beijing Olympic Road Race, Nicole sprinted to victory from a break away group and become Olympic Champion. “It was the most incredible experience, I was so focused on giving everything until I crossed the line it was like an explosion of emotions as more than 10 years of hard work, determination and believing finally came out!” Never wanting to ease up, Nicole went on the win the World Road Race Championships six weeks later, becoming the first cyclist to achieve the historic double of Olympic and World Champion in the same year.
In 2009 resplendant in the famous Rainbow Jersey as world champion, Nicole claimed victories in Spain and Italy, adding the Giro di Trentino to her Palmares. Nicole treated her home fans to a great display of racing winning the British Road Race Championship in Abergavenny and her 10th British road race title.
At the 2010 World Championships Nicole was in a break away that was caught metres from the line, finishing in an agonising fourth place, while at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Nicole finished 5th. A year later it was fourth place again at the 2011 world championships.
At the London 2012 Olympic Games the British team was now one of the strongest in the peloton and it was Nicole’s team mate who won the Silver medal for Great Britain. After a glittering career, Nicole signed off in the same way she raced, giving it her all with an honest and powerful retirement statement that you can read in full on the website.