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Interview With Baden Cooke
By Staff
Date: 3/16/2004
Interview With Baden Cooke

By Marianne Werz O'Brien

For 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.

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 soon?

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 Olympics.

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 races?

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 bearable?

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 me.

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 laughing!).

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 look in)?

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

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 here.

Baden Cooke at the 2003 Tour de France.

Selected Palmares

DOB: 12 October 1978, Benalla, Australia
1,78m; 73kg.
Lives in Nice (France) and Melbourne (Australia).

Teams: Mercury 2000-2001 / 2002-2004
51 victories

2000 (7)

Three Stages of Sun Tour
Two Stages of la Cascade Classic
One manche of la Mi-août Bretonne
Glenvale Crescent

2001 (19)

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
Phoenix Criterium
BMC Tour of Arlington
Bannock Street Criterium

2002 (9)

A Travers les Flandres
Tro Bro Leon
Sun Tour
Two Stages of the Sun Tour
One Stage of Circuit ofs Mines
One Stage of Midi Libre
One Stage of Paris-Corrèze

2003 (9)

GP Fourmies
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

2004 (7)

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 and Baden Cooke

Cooke and Wilson, HEW Cyclassics 2003.

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