Mick Chapman Memorial 2016: Baden Cooke tipped to show class as headline act in new format

CRAIG Chapman will not be surprised to see another Tour de France green jersey winner claim his father’s memorial race on Sunday when the event changes format and moves to Kurri Kurri’s Hunter Economic Zone.

STAR TURN: Baden Cooke in the 2012 Tour de France. Picture: Getty Images

STAR TURN: Baden Cooke in the 2012 Tour de France. Picture: Getty Images

Baden Cooke, 38, will headline the sixth annual Mick Chapman Memorial, which will switch from a criterium race held at Honeysuckle in Newcastle to a 100-kilometre road contest at the 11km industrial estate circuit from 1pm.

Robbie McEwen, a three-time sprint champion on the Tour de France, won the memorial in 2013, a year after retiring. Cooke, a Tour de France sprint and stage winner in 2003, retired at the end of 2013. Despite the time in retirement for Cooke, Chapman expected him to be a force on Sunday. 

“I inboxed him the other day on Facebook and he said ‘Yeah, I’m in. I don't know how well I’ll go, but I’ll give it my best’,” Chapman said. “He’s semi-retired but Robbie McEwen won it easily when he was semi-retired.”

“He looks pretty fit still. I saw him down at the national championships just spectating. He was a pro up until three years ago and it’s a hard life riding Tour de Frances, so there’s plenty of base fitness there.”

Chapman said A, B, C and D men’s events and a women’s division would likely be held across two sessions on Sunday with the first starting at 10am and the main event from 1pm. 

He expected a strong field, including this month’s Tour of Tasmania winner Ben Dyball, who was once coached by Mick Chapman, to vie for the $1500 first prize. 

Alistair Donohoe, a paralympic and able-bodied representative for Australia, will be another rider to watch.

“There’s been some good winners and hopefully we get another really good one to make the list look even stronger,” Chapman said.

“It’s prestigious and hard to win, and with $1500 for first place, they all want to have a stab at it.”

He said the cost of traffic management at the busy Honeysuckle precinct led to the change of venue for the Hunter District Cycling Club event held in honour of their long-time competitor, coach, administrator, foundation member and president.

“There won’t be as many spectators but it’s still getting a profile and while Orica are still happy to support it, we’re going to run it,” Chapman said.

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