Aussie Baden Cooke retires after 14 pro seasons

The 35-year-old says he will work as a Monaco-based agent representing riders

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.