Season 2014 is the first since 1999 that Victorian, Baden Cooke won’t be pinning on a number; after 14 seasons as a professional he’s called ‘time’ on what was a highly successful career to move into rider management.
And whilst he’s not yet through his exams and officially a UCI Agent, he’s already enjoyed success in the role unofficially ‘helping out’ with placing Chris Horner at Lampre when things were beginning to look bleak for history’s oldest Grand Tour winner.
It was 2000 when Cooke turned pro with US team Mercury taking wins in the USA, Republic of South Africa and Australia – but more importantly one in France, the Prix des Bles d’Or where he beat a certain Sylvain Chavanel.
The next year he was still in the Mercury colours and despite the team ultimately fizzling out there were multiple wins in the USA and two stage wins in the Tour de l’Avenir.
French pro teams use the race as a shop window and sure enough in 2002 the Aussie was with F des J and immediately tasting success with wins in the cult Tro Bro Leon and the tough Dwars door Vlaanderen.