By Marianne Werz O'Brien
For Fdjeux.com rider Baden Cooke, 2004 has started with a bang, winning the
Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, and the Grand Prix d’Ouverture in Marseilles, plus
stage wins in the Tour of the Mediterranean, the Tour Down Under and Jayco.
Daily Peloton caught up with Baden back home in Nice where he is recovering
from the bronchitis that forced him out of Paris-Nice.
Baden Cooke. Cyclingpictures.de.
Daily Peloton: What will the rest of your race schedule be this year?
Do you feel you are in top form, and have you any concerns about peaking too
Baden Cooke: Firstly, I have not peaked yet, I have simply done good
work in Australia and am in good early condition. I will continue full gas until
Paris Roubaix, then take a break before building back up for the Tour and the
DP: I’ve read that you are feeling ready to go for the big one-day
races and to attack some of the World Cup races this year. Which World Cup races
are you targeting, and why? Who do you see as your toughest competition in these
BC: I think the most realistic World Cups are Milan San Remo and Paris
Tours. I think Petacchi would be the biggest danger.
DP: When you race, does the weather affect your performance? And if so
– what type conditions favor you, and which cause you difficulty? For example a
cold, wet, muddy Paris Roubaix would be your idea of A: heaven, or B: pure hell?
BC: I find that I can deal with most conditions ok. A wet Paris
Roubaix would not be heaven, but I would certainly not lose any motivation if
that was the case.
DP: The Tour of France – how can you keep your motivation going strong
in the mountain stages? It must be incredibly difficult for a sprinter to face
those stages knowing you have virtually no chance of a win there. You earned the
Green Jersey while you were in the mountains - how much of a psychological
benefit was it? Did wearing the Green Jersey make the mountains a bit more
BC: Yes, having the Green Jersey helped through the mountains in that
it eliminated the small thoughts of stopping that you sometimes get when things
get or are bad. I only thought of getting to Paris in Green.
DP: Have you been working on improving your climbing in order to be in
contention for the sprints on hillier stages? Do you think that becoming a
climber comes at the expense of sprinting speed?
BC: No actually. Quite the opposite, I have actually been working on
my sprint to become faster, hopefully that way I don't need to climb better.
DP: What is it like to race in the TdF? It is a zoo of a race – a
complete circus where total insanity seems the norm. Does that level of energy
help psych you up to race or is it a distraction?
BC: It is quite stressful with so many people grabbing at you and
wanting your time each day. It is hard to get used to the whole world watching.
I find it easy to find motivation with so much at stake, but your energy levels
certainly are drained.
DP: Please give us your impression of the spectators! I was at the TdF
last year and I was amazed how people packed the roads, only pulling back at the
last second for the riders to go by… Is this nerve-wracking for the riders? Or
is it "all in a days work"?
BC: For me, the riders getting so close to the spectators is quite a
thrill, and something I dreamed about since I was young. It is all part of the
excitement, and is what makes the race so very special.
DP: Does the cheering of the crowds help lift you up the mountains, or
is it an annoyance? (One rider said after last year’s tour that he was sick to
death of people screaming "Allez! Allez!" when he was struggling up the
mountains) If you could tell the spectators one thing, what would it be?
BC: “How about a push?” (haha!!)
DP: Which of your wins are you proudest of? Is it bringing the 2002
Herald Sun Tour victory home to Aussies for the 1st time in 16 long years?
Winning the 2004 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic? Taking the Green Jersey at last
years TdF? Or something else entirely?
BC: Obviously the Green Jersey is the most important thing I have won,
but I am very proud of my wins in the one day races. Winning GP Fourmies at the
end of last year in front of a world class field was a very big achievement for
DP: What is your favorite race, and why? What is the race you dream of
winning one day? Is there a race which you have set as a career goal, you simply
won’t be content until you win it?
BC: Paris Roubaix, and I haven't even ridden it yet.
DP: As a sprinter – which achievement would you rank higher: Green
Jersey at TdF or winning Milan San Remo (or any World Cup event)?
BC: That’s a very hard question, it is hard to compare. I think I
would rank them equally, I would certainly be happy with either (he says
DP: In a bunch sprint, when do you take off? Is it a matter of reading
your competitors or is there a certain distance from the line? How do you decide
when to go for it? Or is that a trade secret?
BC: Every sprint is different, head wind I go late, tail wind I lead
out, if I feel strong I go early, if I am bad I go late. Not to mention that I
don't always get the timing right.
DP: Considering the current peloton whom do you think the top ten
sprinters are? Whom do you feel is the greatest sprinter of all time?
BC: The main sprinters in my mind are Cipo, Petacchi, McEwan, Kirsipuu,
Friere, and I guess I am in there too; as for the best sprinter ever? I am not
old enough to judge that.
DP: How did you get started cycling? Do you still enjoy it, is it
still a kick or is it a "job" now?
BC: I started out racing at the local club as a kid, I have always
loved cycling and it is never a job. I would still race if nobody paid me, being
pro is a bonus.
DP: The next section of questions were declared "lame" by my husband,
but what does he know anyhow? He’s a guy! Trust me – your legions of female
followers would love to have answers to these queries! So, for the ladies I must
ask: Do you have a girlfriend? (And are women throwing their room keys to you as
you cross the finish line?)
BC: My new girlfriend Mandy has recently arrived in Nice for the first
time, and I have yet to have any keys thrown to me (hmmm).
DP: How much time do you spend overseas each year, and where do you
call home? Describe your place for us – is its furniture more modern and stylish
or Salvation Army?
BC: For me, Melbourne will always be home, but I am quite comfortable
in my second home in Nice. My pad is decked out with all very modern furniture,
and all the latest stuff.
DP: Are you an "everything in its place" kind of guy or more of an
"archaeologist" (your stuff may be in piles, but at least you know what pile to
BC: Since Mandy moved in, the place is certainly more organized (hehe!!),
but still I have always tried to have a tidy house.
DP: What do you like most about life in Europe? Least?
BC: I least like not being able to communicate exactly what I want to
say, and I miss my friends and family. I most enjoy all the different cultures
that live so closely together.
DP: What is the one item you have to take along when traveling?
BC: Simple!! Vegemite.
DP: Who are your best friends at fdjeux.com?
BC: Matthew Wilson and Brad McGee.
DP: What are your favorite movie, band, and drink?
BC: Casino, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and beer.
DP: What is the last book you read, or movie you went to?
BC: Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson.
DP: If you could indulge yourself and eat one favorite food without
gaining weight in season – what would it be?
BC: Sharni McGee's lasagna.
DP: Finally, a question from a Daily Peloton reader who wants to know
- Did you learn your head-butt techniques (used last year on the Champs-Elysees
against McEwen) by watching young David Sommers battle bad-boy Barry "The
Cannibal" Muzzin in the movie American Flyers?
BC: No, I learnt this from racing the track in Victoria as a kid.
Riders such as Neiwand, Pate and Darren Hill were all specialists at heavy
headed racing techniques (Hehe!!).
Thanks for taking the time to talk with Daily Peloton, Baden. Here’s
hoping you make a speedy recovery!
Please visit Baden’s website
Baden Cooke at the 2003 Tour de France. Cyclingpictures.de.
DOB: 12 October 1978, Benalla, Australia
Lives in Nice (France) and Melbourne (Australia).
Teams: Mercury 2000-2001 / Fdjeux.com 2002-2004
Three Stages of Sun Tour
Two Stages of la Cascade Classic
One manche of la Mi-août Bretonne
Valley of the Sun
Wendy's International Classic
St Valentine's Day Massacre Critérium
Two Stages of Valley of the Sun
Two Stages of Fitchburg Longsjo Classic
Two Stages of Wendy's International Classic
Two Stages and points competition Tour of l'Avenir
McLane Pacific Downtown Classic
McLane Pacific Foothills Road Race
One Stage of Sea Otter Classic
One Stage of Solano Classic
San Diego Criterium
BMC Tour of Arlington
Bannock Street Criterium
A Travers les Flandres
Tro Bro Leon
Two Stages of the Sun Tour
One Stage of Circuit ofs Mines
One Stage of Midi Libre
One Stage of Paris-Corrèze
Championnat of Flandres
Two Stage of Tour Down Under
One Stage of Tour of France
One Stage of Tour Méditerranéen
One Stage of Tour of Suisse
GP d'Ouverture Marseille
Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Two Stages of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Two Stages of Tour Méditerranéen
Points Competition Tour Méditerranéen
One Stage of Tour Down Under
Palmares courtesy of velopalmares.free.fr and Baden Cooke
Cooke and Wilson, HEW Cyclassics 2003. Cyclingpictures.de.