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Baden Cooke - Interview
By Staff
Date: 9/23/2006
Baden Cooke - Interview

Baden Cooke - Interview
Forearms van Petegem does a "lightning round" of questions with Baden Cooke covering the 2006 season, his favorite races, team mates, rivals and targets for next year.

By Forearms van Petegem

Baden Cooke leapt onto the pro scene in 2001 in his second year on the ill fated Mercury/Viatel team with two stage wins in the tour de l'Avenir 2. "Cookie" as his fans have nicked him. The then 24 year old followed up in 2002 with 5 victories after signing with La Française des Jeux in the first of what would be four years with the French outfit.

In 2003 Cooke added ten victories to his young palmares with wins Tour's of Méditerranéen and Suisse. In July  in Stage 2 le Tour France Cookie beat some familiar super sprinter names: Jean Nazon, Jan Kirsipuu, Erik Zabel, Thor Hushovd, Robbie Mc Ewen and Paolo Bettini and Fred Rodriguez to the line for the win, not a bad year for the 25 year old.

"Unbelievable" was the first reaction of Victorian Baden Cooke, 24, ( today when he achieved a career high in claiming the sprinter’s crown in the Centenary Tour de France after a titanic three week struggle with fellow Australian and 2002 green jersey winner, Queensland’s Robbie McEwen (Lotto Domo).

2004 the collection of victories grew by 11 (7- stage wins) with the addition of the sprinters jerseys at Tour Méditerranéen and 3 Days of De Panne. Although Baden may have been disappointed with 12th in the sprinters competition at the tour, he could still count the year as a success after finishing his second tour at the age of 24.

2005, his last year at Française des Jeux was not Cooke's best year; plagued with injuries and some problems at the team, he was destined to leave. A crash on stage 4 of the Giro with  finish, had him driven to the barriers at 60 meters out as he came on strong for the win; Cookie still managed to collect 4th place. As Locutus reflected on the incident in his Prosciutto Report for that day...

Golden Hams
Baden "Capo" Cooke (
My my, the Australian-Italian War of 2005 took another very dramatic turn today. After Lancaster took the first Pink Jersey, then Bettini surged to take the prize for Italy. Then the Petacchi/McEwen rivalry heated up after allegations of the Aussie Champ using suspect tactics to box in the Italian star while taking the Pink Jersey. Then today, Bettini—once again in the Pink Jersey—took that left turn on the way to the finish line that sent Cooke somersaulting off the barriers. Cooke had ridden the perfect race, and was in the process of coming around Bettini to smoke him in the sprint. Then BOOM! an irregular move by Bettini costs him the race. Bettini's attempts to apologize were testily rebuffed by Cooke, and then the war of words between the Italians and the Aussie Sprint Mafia took it up another notch. Tomorrow is another day for the strong men, so the sprinters will have a rough go of it. However, there are hard feelings all over the peloton now and the serious "flicking" will be sure to escalate in the days to come.

Baden continued to add his name to the record books in spite of the bad start to the year with  three stage wins  from the Tour of Poland and the Herald Sun Tour on his home turf in Oz.

Cooke led off 2006 joining the Belgium team with victories in the Grand Prix La Marseillaise, Stage 2 of the Peace Race, and Halle Ingooigem. Looking forward to next year Baden may be cast as the leader of  the Unibet team in the Tour in 07, hopefully and be back mixing it up in the bunch kicks and the chase for another  Maillot Vert. As we've seen with Casper, Cookie can retain his punch and winning form.

But the season isn't over and Baden has a few more tricks in his legs before the fat lady sings....

FvP: Sprinter or one-day man?

Baden Cooke: Both, I love getting involved in the excitement of a bunch sprint, but I also enjoy the tactics at the end of a one day race, the foxing and the suffering.

FvP: Night life, Nice, Melbourne, or Monaco? (favourite nightclub in each locale please)

Baden Cooke: Melbourne of course, I don't go out much in Monaco. (ed, unfortunately Baden
failed to furnish us with nightclub recommendations)

FvP: Paris Roubaix or Flanders?

Baden Cooke: Paris Roubaix

FvP: 2007 objective?

Baden Cooke: Roubaix and  le Tour

FvP: Unibet Protour aspirations? Green light from the UCI?

Baden Cooke: From everything I hear we have the green light. This is very exciting for everyone at the team who worked so hard to make it happen.

FvP: Matt Wilson, some good rides in his short career in Flanders, and a nice 03 Milan San Remo, can he break through for a top 10 in Flanders?

Baden Cooke: Anything is possible, he is much better when the races are longer, so any of the flatter, longer classics suit him well.

FvP: You have said you never train your kick, and only did so in the weeks leading up to the tour, how much extra punch do you have up your sleeve if you are working only on your "Classic" (260 km race) legs?

Baden Cooke: It is like anything, if you don't train it, it doesn't work. I've been doing some more sprint training lately and hopefully well see the difference at Paris Tours.

FvP: Bradley McGee, opinion on his future career direction, is Tour de Suisse a wise objective and within his capacities?

Baden Cooke: Brad is capable of winning any of the week long pro tour tours, as well as high placings in the grand tours if everything is going his way. When he is on form and has a team that can back him the tour de Suisse would be well within his reach.

FvP: Injuries, been a good year?

Baden Cooke: Yeah not too bad, my Achilles was playing up at Tour of Britain, but it has settled down now.

FvP: 2006 in retrospect, are you satisfied?

Baden Cooke: My year has been reasonably good, I have 4 nice wins so far and have been in the front of the results all year. I'll be satisfied if I get one more win.

FvP: Mcewen, what is his jump like from a rival's perspective?

Baden Cooke: Robbie is very explosive. Even when he is not on top form he is still always very explosive.

FvP: Hunt, Zanotti, Cooke, how's the teamwork?

Baden Cooke: Quite well. Jeremy and I are good friends and have been working together all year, and now as we get to know Marco better our train is starting to take shape. I think next year it should come together much better.

FvP: Hell ride? last time you rode? (ed. Hell Ride is a famous Australian amateur and recreation ride, that pulls a peloton of 200 at times in summer for a 50 kilometre loop at 45 km/h that is notorious for danger, thus the serious riders have avoided it for years)

Baden Cooke: I think it must be like 2 years ago. I'm still yet to win a hell ride.

FvP: Tattoos, inspiration and descriptions?

Baden Cooke: I've got a few tattoos, the main one across my back says 'Driven', it represents my personality as being driven in everything that I do.

FvP: Driven, business: philosophy and vision, with description of your merchandise?

Baden Cooke: At the moment a good friend of mine and I are working very hard on the Driven clothing label. When released we'll have all sorts of cool street wear for those who are driven in what they do. It should be in the shops some time in 07.

Thanks Baden for your time. Good Luck at Paris Tours and for 2007.
Baden Cooke
Born October 12, 1978 Benalla, Australia
Professional: 2000

(54  career wins - 114 top ten finishes - most of which were podium appearances)
2006 4 wins so far
Grand Prix La Marseillaise
Peace Race stage 1
Course de la Paix stage 1

Giro stage 1 4th
Tour of Poland stage
Herald Sun Tour 2 stages

Jayco Bay Cycling Classic 2 stages
Tour Down Under stage
GP Ouverture La Marseillaise
Tour Méditerranéen 2 stages
Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde stage
Herald Sun Tour 3 stages
Tour Méditerranéen sprinters competition
3 Days of De Panne sprinters competition

Jacob Creek’s Tour Down Under 2 stages 
Tour Méditerranéen stage
Tour de Suisse stage
Tour de France stage
Criterium Peer
Criterium Wateringen
GP Fourmies
Kampioenschaap van Vlaanderen
Tour de France sprinters competition

Dwaars door Vlaanderen
GP Cycliste du Midi Libre stage
Tro-Bro Léon
Paris-Corréze stage
Herald Sun Tour 2 stages

Tour de l'Avenir 2 stages

2000: Mercury Cycling Team
2001: Mercury/Viatel 
2002 - 2006: La Française des Jeux

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