Cooke Hot For Worlds
– By Gordon Cameron –
Australia’s Baden Cooke took another giant step forward in his career as a professional, scoring his first stage-race victory in the Paris-Corrиze race on Sunday. He also took the points classification and young rider category for good measure.
After a marvellous season, and in searing form, Cooke must now rank as a possible candidate for a medal at the World Road Championships in Zolder in a fortnight’s time. Paris-Corrиze was his 5th win of the season.
Cooke had to survive a series of late attacks on the hilly final stage, after losing all of his team-mates. A lone chase of Estonia’s Janek Tombak secured the victory.
His win impressed no less a figure than Cyrille Guimard, coach of the legendary Renault team of the ’80s, and the man who oversaw 7 Tour de France wins from Van Impe, Hinault and Lemond.
“I see in him a potential world champion next month in Belgium. He has a huge natural power and will become one of the best sprinters in the world and probably the best in two or three years time,” commented Guimard, working as race director at Paris-Corrиze, on baden-cooke.com.
“He reminds me of Walter Godefroot. Like the Belgian, he has the ability to win the Tour of Flanders in the future. Give him two years and he’ll be physically mature. He looks like having a lot of confidence and he’s already very well respected in the bunch.”
This short 3 stage event, organised by French racing legend Laurent Fignon, was making its second appearance on the calendar in 2002. It serves as a pre-Worlds tune up for those riders who don’t fancy getting caught up in any of the war games that make up the series of late-season Italian races where the ‘Squadra Azzuri’ hopefuls try to catch the eye of the Italian selector.
Cooke took the initiative from the off, sprinting home at the head of a 16 man group that finished over 16 minutes up on the peloton on stage 1. He then held off nearest rival Bernard Eisel (Mapei-Quick Step Espoirs), retaining the 1 second advantage he’d held since day 1.
Ag2r’s Andy Flickinger won stage 2. Pierrick Fedrigo (Credit Agricole) followed his impressive showing at the Tour de l’Avenir to take stage 3. Ireland’s Mark Scanlon continued his successful stagiare period with Ag2r by finishing 16th.
1 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com 12.21.07
2 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Mapei-Quick Step Espoirs 0.01
3 Renй Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner 0.03
4 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis ”
5 Charles Guilbert (Fra) Bonjour ”
6 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Jean-Delatour ”
7 Franck Renier (Fra) Bonjour ”
8 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole ”
9 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) ONCE-Eroski ”
10 Fabrice Gougot (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems ”