Australia's Baden Cooke has signed with Professional Continental squad Team Barloworld for 2008, having spent much of the 2007 season on the sideline due to legal complications between his ProTour team's naming rights sponsor Unibet.com and European event organisers. Cooke inked a one year agreement with the British-registered, Italy-based, South African squad over the weekend.
"He's definitely a talented rider who has lots of experience but who can still achieve a lot," Barloworld team manager Claudio Corti said. "I'm convinced he can do well in the Spring Classics."
Despite the problems Cooke's squad experienced in 2007, which saw the team left out of the Tour de France while Barloworld was offered a wildcard entry into the Grand Tour, he managed three victories. The 28 year-old took stage victories at the Tour Down Under, Etoile de Bessèges and Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.
"Team Barloworld has an excellent reputation for the way it's managed and organized," said Cooke. "I think I can begin a new part of my career in the red and white Barloworld jersey."
Before joining the Unibet.com squad when it was a Professional Continental outfit in 2006, Cooke had spent four season with French ProTour team Française des Jeux. It was this period of Cooke's professional career, which commenced in 2000, that the Monaco-based rider saw the most success. In addition to a swag of stage victories, Cooke claimed the Tour de France's Stage 2 in 2003 and continued his strong ride all the way to Paris where he claimed the Tour's points jersey.
In addition to signing Cooke, Barloworld also re-signed Portuguese rider Hugo Sabido. The 27 year-old rider impressed the squad with his mountains jersey at the Giro Del Capo in March and his strong results in both the Volta ao Alentejo and Santarem.
The pair's signing leaves just two or three more openings available in Barloworld's 2008 roster.