Stuart O’Grady remaining optimistic despite 'huge crash' while skiing
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stuart O’Grady remaining optimistic despite 'huge crash' while skiing

by Shane Stokes at 8:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
Luxembourg Pro Cycling rider aiming for Flanders and Roubaix

Stuart OAustralian hard man Stuart O’Grady realises that winning the Santos Tour Down Under is impossible after a skiing accident at his recent team training camp, but fully believes he can be back in top shape in time for the Classics.

“I have 2 broken ribs, one quite badly,” he told VeloNation today. “I had a fairly huge crash while skiing at the team camp. I just missed a pole and was actually very lucky to just come out with these injuries. I make a much better bike rider than skier!

“I've began treatment. Although its obviously not a good thing to happen, looking at the positive side I had a good long solid season, and a very good base in November. So even though it will put me out of contention for the GC at the Tour Down Under, I will hopefully be 100% for the Classics and I'll be there when it counts. It’s only two bones this time!”

O’Grady has suffered over twenty fractures during a long and successful pro career, coming back to full fitness each time. The incidents included a crash on a descent in the 2007 Tour de France, where he suffered eight fractured ribs, as well as fractures to his right shoulder blade, right collar bone and three vertebrae. He also punctured his right lung.

He then broke a collarbone and rib and suffered another punctured lung when he fell during the 2009 Milan-Sanremo. As a result of these accidents and subsequent recoveries, he is regarded as one of the toughest riders in the bunch. There’s little doubt that the latest crash is but a hiccup in his preparation.

Aiming for Flanders and Roubaix:

Perhaps the best result in O’Grady’s long pro career was his storming win in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix, where he attacked over twenty kilometres from the finish and soloed in 52 seconds head of Juan Antonio Flecha. At 37 years of age, he is nearing the end of his career, and while team-mate Fabian Cancellara will most likely be the favourite once again for the race, he could profit if the Swiss rider is marked by the other contenders.

Certainly taking another Roubaix would be a perfect result prior to getting ready for retirement.

As he recovers from his skiing injuries, it is the thoughts of the cobbled Classics which keep him motivated. He has worked out a schedule to get there in the best possible shape. O’Grady will return to Australia for Christmas, and will spend time there building up his condition in advance of the first of three good stage races.

“I will kick off the season at the Tour Down Under then race Qatar and Oman,” he told VeloNation. “Then I’ll build up for Milan- San Remo and the usual Belgian races to prepare for Flanders & Roubaix. They are the two races that I hope to be 100% for. After that, I'll have a break and then prepare with my 'standard' build up leading into the Tour de France.”

O’Grady has taken stage wins and worn yellow on several occasions in the French race, but in more recent years has filled the role of domestique du luxe for contenders such as the Schleck brothers. He moved across with them from Team Saxo Bank to the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, and says that he is very impressed with how things have gone thus far.

“We just finished our first team meeting in the Swiss Alps. It was a great feeling to be back in a team atmosphere after a break and there really was an awesome feeling…not only with the guys I already knew, but also the new riders and staff in the team.”

He has little doubt that things will click from the word go. “It’s going to be a fantastic team, that is for certain. The professionalism, commitment and general attitude amongst every single person involved was brilliant,” he stated, clearly looking forward to the thoughts of racing with the new squad.


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