In-form Cooke finally gets a shot at Paris-Tours

Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-Sungard) before the start of stage one.

Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-Sungard) before the start of stage one. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

Baden Cooke is ready for the onslaught of jet lag he will face once he arrives back in Melbourne next Tuesday, but the opportunity to ride Sunday's 230 kilometre Paris-Tours was too good an opportunity to miss.

The 2003 Tour de France green jersey winner will be at the start line in Voves for his penultimate appearance for Saxo Bank-SunGard, before a dash back to Australia that evening for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, where he will begin racing in Whittlesea, 24 hours after hitting the tarmac.

"I'll be pretty jet-lagged I imagine," Cooke, who won the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in 2002, told Cyclingnews of his impending travel schedule.

"It's tough but in the past I've always hated the fact that I couldn't do Paris-Tours and the Sun Tour so I'm not complaining too much because it's good that I can do both."

Cooke has been enjoying a hot run of form in the lead up to the UCI Road World Championships last month, and then off the back of the race in Copenhagen. On Tuesday, the 32-year-old gutsed it out to finish second "by five centimetres" to Leopard-Trek's Rüdiger Selig at the Binche-Tournai-Binche.

"I made the worlds a bit of a target and my form came up in time for that. I was pretty happy with how we went in the road race, we almost got there – you can't really complain about being beaten by [Mark] Cavendish," Cooke said of the Australian campaign which resulted in a silver medal for Matt Goss.

With a hot field set to line-up for Paris-Tours on Sunday, Cooke will again have his work cut out for him with the Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), a resurgent Robbie McEwen (RadioShack), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and 2010 victor Oscar Freire (Rabobank) all eager to get the better of the rainbow jersey of Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) for the first time.

The end is the beginning

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be Cooke's final race for the Saxo Bank outfit he has called home for the last two seasons with 2011 one of his best in recent years, with the Benalla-native bound for GreenEdge.

Given this season netted Cooke a fifth at the Dwars door Vlaanderen, and 10th at Gent – Wevelgem it's a trend that he is focussed on continuing and bettering for his new team along with becoming an integral member of the lead out train for Goss in the sprint.

"We're going to have a whole bunch of fast guys so I want to try and deliver Gossy to the finish and hopefully a few wins," Cooke explained. "I want to be in tip-top shape for the classics myself and I think there'll be room for me to go for the win in some of the classics. I want to be good at Roubaix and Gent - Wevelgem and these races, and be ready to take my chance if it comes."

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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.


Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.