Cooke Takes Early Lead in Mediterranean Tour
Baden Cooke (La Francaise des Jeux.com) has taken the early lead in the Mediterranean Tour. The Australian, who won last week's Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise, outsprinted 24 companions to win Stage 1, a 111-km ride from Le Cannet to Menton, in 2:46:26. Michele Bartoli (CSC) took second, and Etoile des Besseges winner Laurent Brochard (Ag2r-Prevoyance) finished third.
Brad McGee, Cooke's teammate and compatriot, ignited the action. At 23 km, McGee attacked on the day's first climb. By 47 km, McGee had forged a 4:55 lead. Rabobank and Cofidis chased McGee and reeled him in at the foot of the day's final climb, the Col de la Turbie (97 km).
Jaksche attacked on the Turbie. Behind the German, a chase group formed that was composed of Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Davitamon); Bartoli, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, and Bobby Julich (all from CSC); Michael Boogerd and Levi Leipheimer (both from Rabobank); Brochard; Sylvain Calzati (Oktos-Saint Quentin); David Moncoutie and world road race champion Igor Astarloa (both from Cofidis); Cyril Dessel (Phonak); Benoit Salmon (Credit Agricole); and Sylvain Chavanel and French champion Didier Rous (both from Brioches La Boulangere). Jaksche breasted the climb with the lead, but he crashed on the descent.
On the descent, Cooke bridged up to the leaders and attacked at the one-km banner. Bartoli and Brochard chased the Australian but could not catch him.
In the overall, Cooke leads Bartoli by 0:04 and Brochard by 0:06. Stage 2 will be a 130-km run from La Londe des Maures to Hyeres. Will Cooke keep his lead? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!