It’s almost a Tour de France tradition for the pre-race talk to not be centred around the upcoming edition, but instead, around the drama taking place off the bikes.
Baden Cooke is a Victorian sprinter racing for Orica-GreenEDGE cycling and has been a Green Jersey winner at the Tour de France. He has been professional since 2000 and has represented Australia at world championships and at the Olympic Games.
So far this year he has placed second in the second stage of the Tour of Oman as well as an outstanding second place in the Tour de Suisse where he nearly held-off Peter Sagan.
GreenEDGEFans: You have been riding professionally for small and big trade teams. How have you found joining a brand new team like Orica-GreenEDGE?
Baden: I have found Orica-GreenEDGE extremely well organised and forward thinking. For a new team I was expecting a few hiccups in the first year but I can tell you that this has not been the case. The management have done an outstanding job making sure everything runs smoothly. We have not been held back by backward traditions either, we are using all the best available and latest information to get the maximum out of our performances.
GreenEDGEFans: Have you liked joining a team that has many Aussies riding and in the management?
Baden: Obviously riding along side many of my best friends is a dream come true and certainly encourages a fantastic atmosphere.
GreenEDGEFans: Orica-GreenEDGE has copped some criticism from the cycling community here in Australia for having so many other non-Aussies riders on its team and using Euskadel and Vaconsloile as comparable teams. Could you explain to the Readers of “the Roar” why it’s important in global cycling and to team balance that Orica-GreenEDGE is not a wholly Australian rider team?
Baden: Well firstly, we have many Australian riders on the team. Secondly, no intelligent team however at the very top of their sport would close themselves off to one nation if they didn’t have to if they are aiming to be the best. By the way Vacansoliel has Italian, Spanish, Belgian, Uzbekistan and French riders, not only Dutch so I don’t understand that comparison.
GreenEDGEFans: nor do I, but its a question that has come-up. Great answer. You live in Monaco, that has seemed to become a settling point for Aussie cyclists. What drew you to Monaco to live?
Baden: Monaco and the surrounding area is perfect for training. We have flat roads, lumpy and also high mountains within a short distance. The area has also go a famously warm climate with many sunny days and never too many training days missed due to rain. Nice also has a large airport which makes travelling to and from races easy.
GreenEDGEFans: Your palmarès is extensive. Are there any wins that you are particularly proud of?
Baden: Winning the Green Jersey (at the Tour de France) will always stand out and will be hard to top.
GreenEDGEFans: You have been top 10 in Gent–Wevelgem three times plus many other top 10’s in the same type of northern Classics races. You are in a team with plenty of talent for these sorts of races. At this point in your career, would your next win be opportunistic or would you be looking for team support when you race?
Baden: Our team will support any rider who has the condition to win. I have been supported by the team in an attempt to win a few times this year. I have been very close a few times and I have belief that the team will continue to support me.
GreenEDGE: Much is said about the culture at O-GE and the close knit structure of the team where riders are honest about how they are feeling to allow others to have a go. Your second in a stage in the Oman tour against the highly talented Peter Sagan was because Matt Goss said he was not-up for it on that day. How did O-GE quickly create this trusting and winning culture in a team that is so young?
Baden: Basically,we are all friends at the end of the day so we already have a bond and a trust in place from our years of friendship. So I guess we skipped the “get to know you” part.
GreenEDGEFans: You’re a happily married man. What sacrifices does the other half of a marriage make to allow you to be a cyclist at the highest level?
Baden: Life as the wife of a cyclist can be lonely at times. Kelly is often left alone when I am away racing. When I am home she always looks after me very well. She is a master chef and is constantly surprising me with her creative talent in the kitchen.
GreenEDGEFans: What are next suite of races?
Baden: Tour de France I hope!
GreenEDGEFans: we all hope you will race. Thanks very much.
A very funny video with O-GE riders Baden and Fumiyuki Beppu
Oz Cycling Dan jones interviews Baden Cooke
Baden Cooke’s personal website is http://www.badencooke.com.au and you can follow him on Twitter @badencooke