O’Grady gives it everything in last race for Leopard-Trek
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Monday, October 10, 2011

O’Grady gives it everything in last race for Leopard-Trek

by Kyle Moore at 3:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Tours
Australian finishes eighth in Paris-Tours

Stuart OStuart O’Grady (Leopard-Trek) paid tribute to his Luxembourg squad with a highly aggressive effort in Paris-Tours, eventually finishing eighth on the line in Tours. The fall Classic is O’Grady’s last race for Leopard-Trek as the veteran is moving to GreenEdge next season.

Beginning the race one man short, Leopard-Trek was aiming for the early breakaway, according to team director Lars Michaelsen. “We were seven riders at the start, and we wanted Brice [Feillu] or Will Clarke to get into a break if it contained more than five riders,” he remarked at the finish. “The responsibility fell onto Will’s shoulders. He wanted it, actually. He was really on the lookout to get into a move.”

Clarke got away with David Boucher (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Sébastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet), Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1) and Jurgen Van Goolen (Veranda's Willems – Accent) before the quintet was caught with 50 kilometers to race.

Moving through a feed zone, a group of roughly twenty moved off the front of the peloton, and the Classic that is widely expected to suit the sprinters took on an entirely different look.

“We saw a split between the favourites in the front,” Michaelsen added. “At one point, I think there were six or seven groups on the road. Stuart was part of the second group, and when he saw that the two strongest groups had come back together, he reacted. He was the man that made the break. The peloton, with the favourites, were left behind when he went away.”

O’Grady’s group eventually caught the early break, and Clarke went to work for his countryman. “Will did what he could for Stuart when the two groups joined together,” Michaelsen said. “He was able to help for ten kilometres, and then the race was in Stuart’s hands. The peloton kept the break at 1 minute 20 seconds or 1 minute 30 seconds for awhile, and then the attacks started from the front group.”

Arnold Gerard (FdJ) made the first move, with O’Grady acting as primary policeman in the lead group.

“It was a pretty tough situation to be in,” the Australian said at the finish. “There were maybe 20 of us out front. The race was quite aggressive from the feed zone on, and there was a good deal of attacking from the end. It made the second half of the race really difficult. I tried to follow as many moves as I could. I wanted to make the group a little bit smaller. In the end, things didn’t quite work out.”

Eventual race winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) made an aggressive move following Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM). Mickael Delage (FdJ) followed, and after the attacking pair had passed Gerard, Delage hooked up with his team-mate and looked for a while as if he may be able to pull the duo up to Van Avermaet and Marcato. It was O’Grady who pulled the group back to the French pair, but the energy levels ran down before Van Avermaet and Marcato could be caught.

“I rode fully with the heart and the head today,” O’Grady added. “The legs weren’t always in agreement with this. I really wanted to fly the Leopard-Trek colours today for the last race with my boys.”

As he prepares to move to what is expected to be the first Australian ProTour team, O’Grady reflected on his season with Leopard-Trek.

“This has been one of the longest seasons of my career starting way back at the Tour Down Under,” he explained in a team press release. “It’s been an incredible ride. The team should be proud. We worked hard from the Tour Down Under through Qatar and the Classics. There was the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta and all the races in between. I’m proud of the boys and consider it a privilege to be part of this team.”

“I want to say a big thank you to every single person who has been part of this team. I need to thank the staff at the office, the mechanics and soigneurs that took care of us at every race, the sporting directors and the boys on the bike. I’m proud of what we did this year, and I wish everyone all the best in the next season.”


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