- Article published:
- January 18, 2006, 00:00
- Shane Stokes
By Shane Stokes Stuart O'Grady may have finished twice second and once third in the green jersey...
By Shane Stokes
Stuart O'Grady may have finished twice second and once third in the green jersey classification in the Tour de France, but he has now decided that he will no longer chase the points jersey for best sprinter in the race.
O'Grady finished just 12 points behind maillot vert winner Thor Hushovd in the 2005 Tour and finished second on the 13th stage of the race. However his move to CSC has coincided with a change in direction, the Aussie opting henceforth to focus on Classics instead of his familiar Tour bunch sprints.
"I think if I was going to win the green jersey, it would have happened by now," he told Cyclingnews at the Team CSC training camp in Lido di Camaiore in Italy on Tuesday. "I have had enough close calls. It is just a tiring classification to go for - you put so much energy into it and that takes your edge off winning stages. You kind of become content with seconds, thirds and fourths as they all give you points. You lose that hunger for winning."
The 32 year old says that his move to CSC is part of a new beginning. "That was my whole reason for moving from Cofidis. With what happened a few years ago with the big scandal and everything, there was a sense of just being content to be bike riders with jobs. But I have been a pro for too long to just ride my bike through the French countryside for fun. And it (racing bikes) isn't fun! So if I do it, I want to do it properly. I want to get that winning feeling back."
O'Grady is part of a eleven-man provisional squad from which the final Tour de France selection will be made. "I have had big talks with Bjarne and management. I have told them that if it takes sacrificing going for the green jersey, then I will do it. If it means being part of the winning team in the Tour de France, then for me it is a big challenge, a big step."
"It would obviously be difficult, not being up there getting involved in sprints, but I have never won a bunch sprint. It is not my forte. I have won in breakaways. That is where I do it. I think that my experience in riding nine Tours will probably play a big part, being able to give something to the team. But also getting into breaks with Jens and Jacob Piil and whoever."
Instead of chasing sprint wins in July, the Australian will aim to hit form earlier on. He was fourth in the 2005 Milan - San Remo, third in the 2004 edition of the race and third in the 2003 Tour of Flanders. Coming close in the past means that doing well in these races will be one of his big focuses this year. "I want to have a real crack at San Remo and the Tour of Flanders," he says. "Roubaix is still a little bit out of my league, but if you are in the right team on the right day with enough team-mates around you, then anything is possible. [Servais] Knaven didn't win Paris-Roubiax because he was the strongest, instead, it was because Museeuw got marked out of the race and all of a sudden, he [Knaven] was the team man. Races like that, there is bit more of Lady Luck being involved and also having a strong team."
On the subject of teams, O'Grady is very happy with his new setup. "It is fantastic. It is definitely extremely professional. They dot their I's and cross their T's - Bjarne is a bit of a perfectionist, plus he has a lot of experience and a lot of time for the people around him. He is just a pool of knowledge. It is just fantastic team of riders, a great setup. What happened with Ferretti's team collapsing was very stressful, but it has all worked out well. I am now part of the best team in the world."
A full interview with Stuart O'Grady will feature on Cyclingnews later this month.
Also see: CSC training photo gallery
- Article published:
- January 18, 2006, 00:00
- Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein
By Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein Several years ago, at Gerolsteiner's very first team presentation,...
By Susan Westemeyer in Gerolstein
Several years ago, at Gerolsteiner's very first team presentation, Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer proclaimed, "The future belongs to us!" Today he acknowledges that these were big words that he hoped he could live up to. And today he believes he can, saying, "The future is now!" The team presented its mix of talented veterans and hopeful newcomers at its team presentation in Gerolstein, Germany, on Tuesday.
Holczer points with pride to the team's sixth place in the ProTour team ranking and their 23 victories last season, saying, "We have definitely established ourselves in the world's elite." It's not only the number of victories that are important, but the quality, which, he says, "have reached a new dimension." Among these he counted Georg Totschnig's Tour stage win, Levi Leipheimer's overall victory in the Tour of Germany, and Heinrich Haussler's stage win in the Vuelta, the only German stage victory in one of the Grand Tours in 2005.
Veterans Davide Rebellin, Leipheimer and Totschnig lead the team, with each filling a different role. The Italian, who notes that "the team has constantly improved" over the years and hopes to stay with it until the end of his career, will concentrate on the spring classics and the Pro Tour individual ranking.
Leipheimer is looking forward to the Tour de France. "My preparations are going better than in 2005. And like last year I am concentrating on the Tour," the American said. "When everything goes well, a place on the podium ought to be possible. But I have other priorities, too."
Totschnig was treated as a hero, with the highlights film emphasizing his stage win, and is the team's other man for the three-week tours.
"I expect a change in the spring classics," said Holczer. "We now have more possibilities for top results here or there." Rebellin is the captain for the "hillier" races, and Frank Hoj is also a candidate. "When my legs are good, then I can win," Hoj said when asked if he could win Paris-Roubaix. But Holczer is also looking at youngsters Fabian Wegmann and Heinrich Haussler, as well as the two newcomers David Kopp and Stefan Schumacher.
These are some of the youngsters that Gerolsteiner is counting on for the future. There is also Marcus Fothen, who ended his first Grand Tour as 12th in the Giro last year, who is being joined this year by younger brother Thomas, a neo-pro, and Torsten Hiekmann, who has moved over from T-Mobile. "We are especially looking at the further development of our young guns. They are setting themselves more and more in the scene, they are moving more and more into the top ranks. And they are people who are very talented."
The team has always been known for its "family" atmosphere, and the team boasts two new brother pairs this year. Fabian Wegmann may well be riding for directeur sportif Christian Wegmann, his four-year-older brother. Christian, who will work at Paris-Nice, Romandie and even the Giro, doesn't anticipate problems "bossing" his younger brother: "We both know that the team comes first."
Teammates might be forgiven for mixing up brothers Marcus and Thomas Fothen, who strongly resemble each other. They have different talents, though. Thomas specializes in the classics and one-day races, while Marcus "is more for stage races." When asked what his highlight this year would be, Marcus responded, "riding the Tour for the first time." The moderator fussed at him, saying he had expected a different answer. So Marcus explained that the Tour was has professional highlight, the personal highlight would be the birth of his first child in April.
And who knows - perhaps in the year 2030, Team Gerolsteiner will proudly introduce the next generation of Fothens in the "family business"...
Gerolsteiner team roster