Tour de Suisse: Baden Cooke grabs second on stage 3 by chance
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tour de Suisse: Baden Cooke grabs second on stage 3 by chance

by Kyle Moore at 4:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Suisse
Had meant to lead out Allan Davis, instead beaten only by Sagan

Baden CookeBaden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge) added his name to the long list of riders who have seen Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) sweep around in the final 50 meters on Monday in the Tour de Suisse.

The veteran Aussie had meant to lead out team-mate Allan Davis in the flat finale, which featured three left hand turns in the final 300 meters. But after Davis got a bit lost in the shuffle at the finish, Cooke opened it up on his own, and appeared to get the jump on Sagan after the Slovak slipped slightly in the first corner and was forced to put a foot down.

But the Liquigas-Cannondale phenom was able to recover just in time, closing the gap to Cooke with 200 meters to race and coming around after the final turn.

“Today I was focused on getting Allan to the line,” Cooke told the team website afterward. “It wasn’t my job to do the sprint today but because of the corners and the skinny roads, doing the lead out lent itself to being on the front. I realized in the last kilometer that Allan had lost my wheel. I was in a good position, so I went for it. I nearly held it to the line.”

It was hardly a conventional sprint finish, with wet and narrow roads, and the three 90-degree bends in the final half-kilometre. Traditional lead outs were nearly impossible inside that point, but leading up to it, Orica-GreenEdge were already several men down.

They were one of several teams who had to sacrifice their men for the flats a bit earlier, after a train crossing seriously hampered the peloton’s chase of a three-man breakaway. A six-minute gap to the break quickly ballooned to eight minutes, and Orica-GreenEdge chipped in to the furious chase with Stuart O’Grady and Sebastian Langeveld, leaving them too tired to help with the finish.

Instead, the Australian team had just Michael Albasini, a bit out of his element, along with Cooke and Davis.

“The day was tough from the start of the chase,” Cooke added. “We spent a lot of energy pulling back the break. Unfortunately, a lot of the other sprinter’s teams chose not to contribute to the chase, so we were forced to sacrifice riders on the front that we would have liked to have saved for the finish. We didn’t hold back today. We took the race by the scruff of the neck to have a chance in the sprint.”

Team director Neil Stephens couldn’t point out much that really went wrong in the finale for his team, especially since they were able to reconnoitre the finish beforehand, and pointing positively to Cooke’s runner up finish.

“When we’re dealing with such a technical finish, we work out specifically where different riders need to be at different times,” explained Stephens. “Today, we were fortunate that we were able to preview the final 500 meters at an earlier part of the race. The boys took note of the corners and road conditions to determine where they needed to go.

“The roads were wet for the sprint. This made things a bit dangerous. I tend to think the team calculated those corners on wet roads really well. We came close to the stage win.”

Stephens’ Orica-GreenEdge sprint train should get another chance Tuesday, barring any more intruding locomotives, in a 189km stage from Aarberg to Trimbach/Olten.


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