Baden Cooke winning the second stage of the 2003 Tour de France, ahead of a lot of big names from years past and, somehow, inexplicably, an Euskaltel Euskadi rider in the mix (?!)

Tour green jersey winner Baden Cooke is competing on Survivor

The Australian rider, who retired in 2013 and is now a co-owner of Factor bikes, is a competitor on 'Team Brains'.

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Former Australian pro Baden Cooke is competing on the current series of Australian Survivor.

Filmed in Cloncurry, in far-northern Queensland, this iteration of Australian Survivor pits two teams against each other  – ‘Brains’ vs ‘Brawn’. Cooke, a brawny former athlete, is on team ‘Brains’. 

Three episodes in, that seems a safer place to be. Team Brawn struggled at the universal survival basic of ‘making fire’, and fielded a contestant that didn’t even pack a jacket. 

Meanwhile, an Instagram crochet identity is the only member of Team Brains to be sent packing thus far. Team Brains may have fire, but that’s not the only thing raging: in episode two, Cooke butted heads with teammate George, labelling him both “delusional” and “the fifth-strongest guy”.

He also tussled with Australian Football League legend Gavin Wanganeen (Team Brawn, voted out in a brutal tribal council, RIP).

Cooke, 42, had a 13-year pro career, most prominently as a rider for Française des Jeux in the early 2000s.

In 2003 he won a stage of the Tour de France. That year, he also won the green jersey competition after a sustained battle with fellow Australian Robbie McEwen, finally snatching it back off his shoulders in the final sprint on the Champs-Élysées.

After stints with, Barloworld, Vacansoleil, and SaxoBank, Cooke’s swansong was two years with Australian team Orica-GreenEdge. 

After retiring as a professional cyclist, Cooke retained ties with the sport, working as a rider agent, and as a co-owner of Factor bikes. As of June 2021 he is also the sales director at a cybersecurity firm.

The Australian is not the first ex-cyclist to find later-era fame on reality television. 

US mountain biker Gretchen Reeves appeared in the Amazon Prime series Eco-Challenge Fiji, alleged domestic abuser Mario Cipollini had a stint on Ballando con Le Stelle – Italy’s Dancing With The Stars – and Michael Rasmussen did the same with the Danish version of the franchise. 

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