An interview with Stuart O'Grady, April 14, 2007
Team CSC had many cards to play in Paris-Roubaix. With last year's winner Fabian Cancellara as team leader, Stuart O'Grady was dedicated to helping the Swiss rider to a repeat victory, but ended up having his own chance to vie for victory. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown talked to the Australian in Compiègne the day before his victory at 'Hell of the North'.
"I don't know if I am in Adelaide or Compiègne," said the 34 year-old O'Grady as he casually prepared himself for the teams' presentation prior to Paris-Roubaix. He had reason for his comment; it had not been that warm in a Paris-Roubaix since 1949 and many riders were commenting it was more like the Tour de France than the Hell of the North.
O'Grady figured that the weather would play a factor but only up to a point. "But what ever conditions are you always psyche yourself up for that, whether it is raining and muddy or dry, hot and dusty."
Sunday was expected to be 27°C and the pavé dry after a month of dry weather. The concern of many riders lining up for the 105th edition would be visibility and breathing, due to the dust that would be kicked up by the surrounding cars and motorbikes.
"There are never too many big surprises." -O'Grady knows what to expect out of Paris-Roubaix
"The dust does have a big effect on breathing. The biggest danger [with the high temperatures] is with losing water bottles and not having access to the cars. Tomorrow, water is going to be a major factor and I am sure you are going hear of a lot of guys complaining of cramps after the race. Regards to the breathing, normally you are coughing up dust for a few days after."
The popular Aussie rider has been flying all spring. He nearly missed out in the Omloop Het Volk, finishing fifth, came close in the Milano-Sanremo sprint, again finishing fifth and, last week, finished 10th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. For Paris-Roubaix, the team captain was clearly the 2006 winner, Fabian Cancellara, but one wonders if O'Grady is in the right move then what could happen.
"We have a major leader in Fabian and we will try to get him into the right place at the right time," continued O'Grady, referring the lead-up of the key sectors, like the Forest of Arenberg. (See Cyclingnews' section on the pavé sectors.) "I am having the form of my life and I am really looking forward to tomorrow. I have a role to play, and as long as we get Fabian or one of the boys on the top step, then that is the main goal."
He did not count himself out of the game if the chance should arrive, and indicated that he could be part of one of the team's secondary plans.
"Tomorrow, the race can be decided in a matter of seconds; in every sector of cobbles something can happen. We have to have a plan A, B and C. Obviously we have a plan A but you have to have back up plans in the case something else happens. It is never a 100% smooth race, but we will just see how it goes."
The CSC boys will keep an eye on the rivals. "The favourites are [Leif] Hoste, [Alessandro] Ballan and obliviously, Tom [Boonen]. It is the strong guys, the same guys that were up there in Het Volk and the same guys that were up there in Tour of Flanders.
"There are never too many big surprises."