Cooke has long been considered hard to work with, perhaps a result of her having been out there in Europe doing it her own way for years as opposed to the more organised, structured BC set-up. She kicked up a fuss about the nationals in 2010 because of the Cervélo girls not chasing each other and making her do the work, meaning she didn't get the national jersey for the first time in a decade. She's also had her fair share of terrible luck - the signing for Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung just before the sponsors pulled the plug and the replacement sponsors (Skyter Shipping) were a bunch of fly-by-night luxury yacht merchants who left the team at the eleventh hour, leaving them scrambling for a sponsor. Eventually the team owner and his son kept the team going out of their own pockets, but understandably, expenses like the salaries of former World Champions like Amber Neben and Nicole became too much and she was reduced to a national team wherever BC were able to enter one, mostly consisting of her and a bunch of willing but at-that-point-not-yet-ready-for-the-top-level youngsters (some of whom, such as Lucy Martin and Emma Trott, have now become top riders themselves).
However, it is pretty plain to see that something is amiss with Nicole lately. From 2005 to 2008 she was one of the world's top riders; from 2009 to 2010 she still was, but a variety of circumstances meant she wasn't having the same impact (2009 being the trouble surrounding Vision-1, 2010 being the search for invites and the inexperienced support at the GB national team). 2011 was a bit of a down year, apart from that Worlds performance which rescued it, but we can easily chalk that one up to a stacked roster at MCipollini and a few inopportune crashes.
However, in 2012 she ranked 131st in the world on CQ ranking. This is not what we are used to from Nicole. She had a good calendar, riding Energiewacht, Exergy, Emakumeen Bira, Trentino, the Giro Donne, the Trophée d'Or and the Giro della Toscana as well as most of the World Cup events. Something was clearly wrong.