By Gregor Brown in Recanati
Australian Baden Cooke has entered this spring successfully thanks to his left leg turning as it should be and no longer going numb in critical moments. The 29 year-old of the Barloworld team spent the winter working on a new bike setup that has worked out successfully.
"My form is good, and I have been trying to help [team-mate Enrico] Gasparotto as much as I could," he said after Sunday's stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. Cooke has been working to help his Italian team-mate battle for the race overall, but was also pleased with his time trial run.
"It was the first real test, I went hard and the leg went well... there was no blowup," Cooke stated of his left leg. (For more read Finding the power.) "Usually by this time in the year it would have happened four or five times." He thanked John Kennedy in Melbourne, who had helped him with his new position.
"Yesterday [stage to Civitanova Marche - ed.], I had a chance but I had a puncture on the final hill. I will have a crack in the final stage, and then it is on to Milano-Sanremo. My form is really good heading to Sanremo."
Cooke then revealed that another previously unknown physical problem has recently been solved. "I just found out last week that I have asthma. I had never done the test for it, and I just now find out. I did a simple blow test with the team, and the team then wanted me to see a doctor to have it checked out. It was clear as daylight that I had asthma. I got Ventolin and it now feels like I have a third lung."
He will test his new lung and leg in Sanremo with team-mates Gasparotto and Robert Hunter. "There will be three of us at Sanremo. Gasparotto and Hunter are both going well. Gasparotto will be good to go on the Poggio, and Robbie and I will wait for the sprint."
Cooke will travel to Sanremo's finale after Tirreno to inspect the parcours before the race on Saturday, March 22.