Cooke believes his career is likely finished after Orica GreenEdge decides not to renew his contract
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cooke believes his career is likely finished after Orica GreenEdge decides not to renew his contract

by VeloNation Press at 12:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Former Tour de France green jersey rider says no hard feelings with Australian team

Baden CookeAccepting that his career has almost certainly run its course, Baden Cooke is considering what next to do after not being retained by Orica GreenEdge.

“I think pretty much it’s over,” Cooke told The Advertiser. “It's a really bad year for cycling with so many teams shutting down. There are hundreds of guys on the market with no job and I'm one of those guys.

“I'm speaking with one WorldTour team at the moment but it's a very small chance. There are probably 50 guys going for the one spot.”

Although he had a promising start, the former Tour de France green jersey winner didn’t have the career that was expected. His 2003 Maillot Vert success came at just 24 years of age but, rather than progressing with age, that Tour marked his one and only stage win in the race.

Cooke did have two relatively successful seasons at Unibet in 2006 and 2007, winning races such as the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise, Halle – Ingooigem, the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen and stages in the Course de la Paix, the Tour de Wallonie, the Tour Down Under and Etoile de Bessèges, yet things became quieter after that point.

He raced with more limited personal success with Vacansoleil, Team Saxo Bank and Orica GreenEdge. Rather than regularly winning races, he became a helper to others. However after two years with the Orica GreenEdge team, it has decided not to renew his contract.

“I had no inkling this could be my last year," he said, admitting to being both “surprised and disappointed” by the news. “I thought I'd do two more years and at my age I can still ride fast enough to do my job well.

“It's a shame if I do have to go out not on my own terms but I'm not angry or anything, I've had a really good run. I'm very close with Gerry Ryan the owner of the team and Shayne Bannan who have both helped me immensely during my career.

“I'll never forget that and I wouldn't be here today if I didn't have their help over the years.”

Cooke turned 35 earlier this month. He said that he and Stuart O’Grady had played similar roles with Orica GreenEdge, acting as road captains and helping other riders to be in the right place at the right time.

“My days of being a prolific winner are long gone,” he admitted. “I still come close occasionally but my main role on the team was basically the same as Stuey's was.”

While he accepts landing a gig with a WorldTour team is all but impossible, he said that he’d consider an approach from a pro continental outfit, but only if the money was enough for him to be able to pay the bills.

If not, he said that he is ready to move on. According to The Advertiser, one possibility is that he could remain based in Monaco and become an agent for Australian riders.

Whatever happens, he said that he is satisfied with what he achieved. “I've won 50-odd professional races and I'm proud of every one of those,” he stated. “Obviously the green jersey stands out as a life changing thing, the other ones are nice memories but the green jersey has changed my life really. That was a defining moment of my life.”


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