Target: Tour team in July
Big pothole, snapped fork, five busted ribs and a broken collarbone; Stuart O'Grady's accident earlier this year looked set to rule him out for quite a while but, as the Australian tells Shane Stokes, he's raring to go once again.
Stuart O'Grady has shown a remarkably quick return from injury this spring. On March 9 he crashed on stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico, breaking five ribs and his collarbone. Five and a half weeks later, he made his return to competition in the Rund um Köln and now, just over two months after hitting the deck, he is riding the ProTour Tour of Catalonia. The Australian has had a solid showing thus far, placing 16th in the opening time trial, then sprinting in eighth on stage two and fourteenth on stage three.
With his CSC team-mate Ivan Basso handing out a butt-kicking thus far over in Italy, O'Grady is building form in the hope of being on the winning team in the Tour de France. He told Cyclingnewsearlier this year that he was on the shortlist for the team and was so committed to the cause of helping Basso that he would give up any ambitions he still had about winning the Maillot Vert in France. And while he's had a spring spoiled by injury, he is nevertheless hoping to make it into CSC's all-important selection for July.
"Nothing is 100 percent, I would need to do a good ride to be absolutely certain of it, but I am in the squad as it stands and I will obviously try to ensure that my form is good enough," he told Cyclingnews this week. "Ivan has shown that he is in fantastic form and I think he is not only capable of winning the Giro, but that he is capable of winning the Tour as well. Bjarne is obviously going to want to take a team with that goal in mind and so I am going to make sure that I am worthy of selection."
O'Grady is encouraged by the speed that he has returned to racing, something even he didn't expect. "It is incredible how fast the body can recover," he said. "To be back racing five weeks after breaking the bones that I did is pretty remarkable, I think. I was definitely happy to be able to finish 200 kilometre races, to come straight back into it. I am pretty surprised, to be honest; I thought I would struggle a lot more than I did. But I think the amount of base training I did in December, January and February has paid off.
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