Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow spoke to Baden Cooke this morning before the start of stage 5, and the Australian was in surprisingly good spirits as he oversaw his new bike being set up. He was a bit concerned that it was done to perfection, as he is quite meticulous. "The injuries aren't too bad," he said. "But my neck is bloody sore and I see why when I looked at Gazzetta dello Sport this morning. The photo shows my neck at right angles to my body.
"I smashed the bike, smashed the forks, broke the seat...Hopefully it's not too far out. You don't want to go up the hills with slightly the wrong position. You can blow up a knew or something. Trying to get the plumb bob on the side of a hill doesn't make much sense.
Cooke said that he hadn't spoken to Bettini this morning, although just after we interviewed him, the Italian came over and Cooke ignored him. Bettini then went over to the FDJ officials and explained his point (that his chain slipped and he didn't know Cooke was there).
"He's not giving an inch," said Cooke. "He will not admit he's wrong. A few Italian journalists asked me if I'll shake his hand today. I'll shake hands with him when he admits he put me into the barriers. One minute he's saying my chain slipped, next he's saying he didn't do anything. So which is it? Chain slipping or didn't do anything?
"Some of the Italian media are saying he didn't do anything wrong. Silvio Martinello is quoted as saying 'Cooke's wrong. The rules are clear; a rider can't change their line in the last 200m, but Cooke made a mistake to try and pass on the inside' I was just trying to get around him! What was I going to do? Go up on the footpath? Anyone who says I chose the wrong side...there was only 20 centimetres in it. We were almost in the middle of the road. If anything, the road was bending the other , so I've really come around the outside. There was no wind. I didn't go for any advantage there. I could have gone left or right. I only had 20 centimetres more on the other side - there was no difference."
After the 223 km stage between Celano and L'Aquila - the longest of this year's Giro - it was a different story when we caught up with him in the early evening. "I'm in agony," he said. "My back was tight, my neck was buckled, I was pedaling in squares. I had some strength in my legs, but everything was out of whack, so it was hard to get the power down. I'm lucky that my personal physio turned up and is working on me now. But I'll have to make a big improvement to give it any shake tomorrow."
When asked, Cooke said that he still hasn't spoke to Bettini.