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A happy Baden Cooke just won the 2006 GP d'Ouverture
Australian veterans confirmed for new team
Cooke has been with Saxo Bank-SunGard for the last two years, while Wilson is currently riding for the Garmin-Cervelo team. They successfully raced together at Francaise des Jeux a decade ago, along with fellow Australian Bradley McGee. Cooke won the green jersey at the 2003 Tour de France, while Wilson was Australian national champion in 2004.
“Matt Wilson is my best friend, Simon Gerrans grew up just down the road, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road with Stuart O’Grady, everyone on the team is a friend and there won’t be another team in the peloton with such a close bond,” 32-year-old Cooke said in a statement issued by the team.
“The strength of this bond will be one of our advantages. The reason Australians are in such demand with European teams is our reputation for putting it on the line for the team. Now we get to do that for our mates on an Australian team.”
Wilson said: “This team is more than a team for me, it's like a family. The opportunity to ride for a team directed by people who have been so instrumental in my career is very exciting. Signing with GreenEdge feels like I've come full circle, as I started my career riding for Shayne Bannan in the under-23 Australian team 14 years ago.
“With Bannan, Neil Stephens and Gerry Ryan, who has been a long time supporter of mine and of Australian cycling generally, I have complete faith in the future of the team. I'm very much looking forward to becoming part of this exciting new era in Australian cycling.”
Confident for the Classics
Cooke is confident he can still be competitive in the cobbled Classics as part of a strong GreenEdge team that will also include Stuart O’Grady.
“For the Classics I’m as strong as I’ve ever been and the next two years will be the best years of my career in these races,” Cooke said. “I had one of my strongest Classics campaigns this year. In Paris-Roubaix I was in the front group and was caught up in a crash on the last cobblestone sector.
“I’ve got really big aspirations in the one-day Classics. I want to win a Classic and work alongside the other guys on the team that have similar ambitions there to make us a force to be reckoned with.”
GreenEdge has already confirmed the signing of Travis Meyer, Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge (all Garmin-Cervelo), Stuart O'Grady (Leopard-Trek), Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank), Simon Gerrans (Sky), Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Simon Clarke (Astana), Svein Tuft (SpiderTech) and Daniel Teklehaymanot.
Team manager Shayne Bannan told Cyclingnews on Friday that 90% of the 28-rider roster has been secured. However he refused to reveal some of the expected bigger-name signings that have yet to be announced.
Bannan knows it has to sign enough riders with UCI points to ensure the team secures a UCI ProTeam licence for 2012 and so places in the biggest races on the WorldTour calendar.