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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Baden Cooke
COOKE FACTFILE
Baden Cooke
DOB: 12/10/1978
Nationality: Australia
Best Tour: 2002 - 4th in points competition
Few riders were more deserving of a stage win than Baden Cooke at last year's Tour de France.

The Australian surprised many of the world's best sprinters with a series of telling bursts from the bunch only to narrowly miss out on an, as yet, elusive stage win.

He ended the Tour with seven top-10 finishes and was rewarded with an impressive fourth overall in the green jersey competion behind countrymen Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady, and Germany's Erik Zabel.

This time around, the 24-year-old looks set to get the better of his rivals in the first week.

Aside from the sprints, he looks unlikely to make any major waves. He was 127th in last year's race, three hours behind Lance Armstrong's winning time.

Cooke's French outing was the climax to a strong season for the up-and-coming rider.

He flourished early in the season with stage wins in the Tour Down Under and took stage wins in the GP Midi Libre before clinching the Tro Bro Leon.

Other accolades included bronze in the Commonwealth Games road race.

This season, though, he has yet to get the better of the world's best sprinters.

His most impressive result in the World Cup Classics to date is 14th in the Milan-Sanremo.





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