An interview with Baden Cooke
Sometimes a little step backwards can become a leap in the right direction - after trading his ProTeam Francaise des Jeux in for new Continental pro outfit Unibet.com, Australia's Baden Cooke began the 2006 racing season with victory at the GP d'Ouverture de la Marseillaise. Motivated to prove his worth and lead the team to the next level, the 'Benalla bullet' told Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner about injury concerns and what's in store for 2006.
Green jersey winner at the 2003 Tour de France, Cooke has had a tough couple of years since winning that prize; he's not only changed teams in 2006 but his objectives for the year are vitally different. Instead of chasing the bigger stage races, the 27-year-old from Benalla, in country Victora, will be out for wins in the Belgian Classics. Shaping up to peak at one-day races like Het Volk, Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix is a lot different to tailoring his form to last over the three weeks of a grand tour, and as such has requires a different approach.
Cooke started this season in the gym back in Australia, and after racing the Herald Sun Tour didn't ride the country's biggest stage race, the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, because his new team Unibet.com weren't competing at the event. He came out with all guns blazing and won France's season opener, GP de La Marseillaise, making it a perfect start to his 2006 account - so he's doing something right. While he still has racing to get into his legs before the spring madness begins, he's already focussed on those months in Belgium where the bike is king and only the toughest riders survive.
To read the full interview, please click here.