O’Grady set to captain another Paris-Roubaix with Orica-GreenEdge
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Friday, April 05, 2013

O’Grady set to captain another Paris-Roubaix with Orica-GreenEdge

by Kyle Moore at 10:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Roubaix
 
2007 race winner points to Langeveld as top contender

Stuart OThough his opportunities to contest the finale of Paris-Roubaix have probably passed with the years, Stuart O’Grady (Orica-GreenEdge) will start another edition of the Hell of the North on Sunday, and the 39-year-old will lead his Aussie squad on the road.

O’Grady grabbed his cobblestone trophy in 2007 while riding in support of Fabian Cancellara at CSC. As he has gotten a little longer in the tooth, O’Grady hasn’t recently shown he has the legs to compete for a top result. He took 53rd in the race a year ago, which marked the first time he had reached the Roubaix velodrome since finishing fifth in 2008.

But Orica-GreenEdge will not be expecting O’Grady to produce a result. Rather, the Aussie’s expertise will be relied upon as an experienced voice on the road. O’Grady spoke of race tactics and his role in the team in extended comments on the team website.

“There’s obviously a perfect scenario for each team. The team meeting before the race will identify this scenario and everyone is given a job based on the perfect plan, but as in most big races, people crash, they have punctures,” O’Grady explained. “It’s quite rare that all eight guys are on 100% form on the same day. The key is to be flexible, stay calm and do the best with what you have. Every single rider has a major role, and if one of the guys doesn’t fill his role for whatever reason, then someone else has to cover it and life becomes hard.

“You hope everyone sticks to the game plan, but at the same time, we have to be able to change tactics on the fly if other circumstances arrive. After Flanders, [Fabian] Cancellara is obviously a favourite, but we’ve got to go out there and call upon our tactical knowledge to beat him. We have to race our way.”

Though O’Grady gets Orica-GreenEdge’s number one bib, they are likely to protect Dutchman Sebastian Langeveld, who is coming off a tenth place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Easter. Langeveld didn’t get a chance to contest Paris-Roubaix a year ago after crashing out of Flanders. O’Grady noted their chances with the former Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner.

“I guess Sebastian has been the team leader for the classics teams for a couple years now,” O’Grady noted. “Obviously, last year it was a massive blow to have our number one guy crash out. A lot of chance was passed along to us, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to come up with any sort of result. Hopefully this year we can turn that around. He’s shown that he has really great form. He was up there in Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix should suit him even more than the Flanders circuit.”

Though they’re a new team, Orica-GreenEdge have shown they have the tactical sense to win a big Classic, as illustrated by Simon Gerrans’ victory in Milan-Sanremo last year. Gerrans swept past Cancellara for that victory, and with Cancellara the looming favourite for Paris-Roubaix, teams like Orica-GreenEdge will have to isolate him and attack him early. And the Australian squad is riding some good mojo currently, with wins from Luke Durbridge, Daryl Impey, and Simon Gerrans in the last week. Though of these men, only Durbridge is in the Paris-Roubaix ranks, which will be headed up by O’Grady.

“The road captain is often the most experienced. I’ve been in every situation possible,” O’Grady concluded. “I’ve been in hard editions and great ones – well, they’re all hard, but when they go well, it’s easy to forget that. It’s about keeping the guys cool, calm and collected. Anything can happen and at some point in a Paris-Roubaix, something usually goes wrong.

“When you talk to the guys at the end of the race, everyone has a different story to tell because it’s a whole adventure out there on the road. It’s about keeping the team together, conserving energy and communicating well.”

Orica-GreenEdge for Paris Roubaix:

Stuart O'Grady, Fumiyuki Beppu, Baden Cooke, Mitchell Docker, Luke Durbridge, Jens Keukeleire, Sebastian Langeveld, Jens Mouris

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