Baden Cooke was sitting on the wheel of eventual stage winners Rabobank Team for most of yesterdays gruelling stage in the TDU. Cooke’s UNI.SA team mates Matty Wilson and Simon Clarke where in the break that also included O'Grady, Rogers, Armstrong, and 10 other crème of the peleton. With 2 in the break there was no need to panic and get his teammates to chase, Cooke just sat on the back of Rabobank train and “Picked my nose while they did all the work”. He reported this morning. “I was feeling fantastic and on the climbs I was just tapping over the pedals, sitting easy while I watched as the other contenders looked to be feeling the days relentless action.”
“I could not have been in a better position all day and was really feeling good for a stage win. We were descending at around 75kph on a long straight when in an instant I was on the asphalt with my teammate landing on top of me surfing me down the road. Then another fell onto of me and then another as I continued to slide on the right side of my body along the asphalt.” Cooke said while standing to show the skin missing from his body from his right shoulder all the way down to his ankle.
A rider, 2 wheels in front of Baden had apparently had a stick blow into his spokes in the windy conditions and came down right in front of him. At 75kph Baden could do nothing and also hit the ground in a blink of an eye as other riders piled up on top of him. The Victorian former Tour De France Green Jersey winner was starting to find some great form after competing in both the Jayco Bay Classic and the Australian National titles. In stage one of this years TDU he looked the faster of the sprinters in the race to the line. Its arguable that if he didn’t have to jump off the throttle and change direction when Robbie McEwen was struck by that infamous camera it would have been a different podium.
It was an unlucky crash for Baden leaves for Europe on Tuesday to join his new team for 2009; VACANSOLEIL. You can stay tuned to Baden’s career this year on his website
"Well today sore the first stage of the Tour Down Under and the first Stage
of a pro tour race for 2009. The crowd was out in force to see Lance and the
stage today had a couple of steep climbs in it so it would be a good measure
to how the legs are feeling. I am riding for the Uni-SA team with my long
time good mate Matty Wilson and young guns Jack Bobridge, Travis Meyer, as
well as Scott Davis, Simon Clarke and Aaron Kemps. The legs felt strong all day and when
it cam time for the sprint I was position pretty well to give it a good
crack. I launched only to have to change direction to avoid another rider
but still ended up second. I am happy to get the seconds and I will think
about the overall after I see how tomorrow goes. Tomorrow will dictate who
the final winner will be in my opinion so I am hoping I am right up there at
the finish to have go at taking the stage Thank for all the support out on
the road." - Baden
This 16 lap course is always tough and Sunday was no different. The Elite Men's Road Race covers 163.2 km at Buninyong, near Ballarat in Victoria. Of the 134 starters, only 44 finished the race, with Baden finishing in 26th place. Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) was fifth and will now ride the Tour Down Under as a wildcard in the same team as Baden, the UniSA team.
Overall, the Bay Series did not go as anticipated for me this year. With two 5th places, a fall and then unable to finish Stage 4, things were not going to plan. It was very pleasing to have a good hit out in the last stage at Geelong, with 20 minutes out front on my own, finishing in second place, behind Brett Aitken.