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By Rupert Guinness, Of The Australian
If you see the Australian sprinter Baden Cooke wiggling his backside a little, don’t fret. He is not trying to shake that booty.
Everything had been going swimmingly well for the Tour debutant on the health stakes. Until, that is, he woke up on the rest day to discover he has developed a massive cyst on the left side of his rear end.
It has come at a bad time for the former Mercury team rider: just four days before Cooke and his Fdjeux.com teammates launch their bid to win the final stage in Paris.
To try and ease the pain while racing, Cooke has been cutting a whole the size of a silver dollar into his saddle.
Seeing how he climbed off his bike after Wednesday’s stage 16 from Les Deux-Alpes to La Plagne, chances are he’ll be chiseling away again at the saddle before Thursday’s stage.
Between winces, Cooke managed to describe his injury. He said that the Fdjeux.com team doctor treating the cyst was so amazed at its size that he even took a photo of it!
Sorry, we don’t have that shot.
As for treatment, Cooke says there is nothing he can really do but hope it bursts sooner than later. It is rock hard, he says, and cannot be lanced.
Speaking of Cooke’s cyst, it reminds us of the one triple Tour champion Greg LeMond had once while riding for Z-Peugeot in 1990. It was huge, Greg started saying as I took notes, before dropping his pants to show where the large strap of Band-Aid had covered it.
Then Greg went on to explain that so infected was the sore, when his soigneur Otto Jacome lanced it, the puss filled a wine glass.
“Cheers!,” I said, and ran.
Saddle sores, boils, cysts. They are the nastiest and foulest of niggling injuries for Tour riders. Unless they heal, they can literally ruin a rider’s Tour, as history already shows.
Ask Frenchman Laurent Fignon. He said his eight-second loss to LeMond in the 1989 Tour while in the yellow jersey was partly due to a saddle sore that rose its ugly yellow head overnight. For obvious reasons, it literally made riding over the cobblestones of the Champs Elysées a real pain in the bum.
Ask Irishman Sean Kelly. In the 1987 Tour of Spain, he too was in the overall race leader’s jersey with a day to go. Just one miserable day. But so bad was the pain, Kelly pulled out of the race and handed his almost-certain win to Colombian Luis Herrera.
Unlike Fignon though, Kelly came back the next year to make amends with the win.
We’re hoping in the Australian sector of the VeloNews car — the right hand back seat — that Cooke does not share their painful fate, but comes through to win that stage in Paris.