Cooke Wins Grand Prix La Marseillaise
Baden Cooke (La Francaise des Jeux.com) has won the Grand Prix La Marseillaise. The Australian, who won the green jersey in last year's Tour de France, took a bunch sprint to win the 150-km race from Gardanne to Aubagne in 3:38:30. Jo Planckaert (Mr. Bookmaker.com-Palmans) finished second, and Fabio Baldato (Alessio-Bianchi) took third.
At 30 km, Jacky Durand (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) ignited the day's big break. Fabien Sanchez (La Francaise des Jeux.com) joined Durand and dropped him at 61 km. Sanchez forged a lead of more than eight minutes before Stuart O'Grady and Peter Farazijn (both from Cofidis), Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel) and a Landbouwkrediet-Colnago rider set out after him. The peloton kept the four on a short leash and reeled them in before the final climb.
With two km remaining, the 20-year-old Sanchez led the field by 0:45. The peloton, however, engulfed him with 70 m left. The race came down to the sprint, which Cooke took from Planckaert and Baldato.
Most of the riders in the Grand Prix La Marseillaise will tackle the Etoile de Besseges, which begins on Wednesday. Will Cooke repeat his success in that race? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!