Baden Cooke, the flamboyant Australian sprinter who won the green jersey at the 2003 Tour de France, is hanging up his cleats.
“After 14 years racing at the highest level, I am moving on,” Cooke said Wednesday in a team release. “Having the honor of finishing my career with Australia’s first own WorldTour team has been a dream, racing surrounded by my best mates has been a phenomenal experience.”
Now 35, “Cookie” turned pro in 2000 with Mercury, and enjoyed his best years at FDJ from 2002-2005. A winner of more than 50 professional races, Cooke’s best season was 2003, when he won a stage and a down-to-the-wire battle to claim the green jersey over compatriot Robbie McEwen.
His last pro win came in 2010, and he joined Orica-GreenEdge in 2012. He later raced as a road captain and helped Orica’s sprinter, Matt Goss, in the mass gallops.
“All I ever wanted in life was to race bikes professionally,” he continued. “I never thought I would have so much success and win the races that I did. I am retiring from racing at a professional level but I will continue to train and don’t be surprised to see me pop up at a local race.”
The Commonwealth Games bronze medalist and 2004 Olympian will ride a farewell criterium in his hometown of Melbourne as part of the Logie-Smith Lanyon SKCC Super Criterium on December 15.
Cooke said he would become a rider’s agent based in Monaco.