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Former Roubaix champion battered and bruised but calm
Stuart O'Grady believes that his recent skiiing accident won't hamper plans for the Spring Classics but will dampen his ambitions for January's Santos Tour Down Under
Speaking from his base in Monaco yesterday afternoon, O'Grady says that his strong base fitness, garnered through an excellent training program during November, will serve him well despite the enforced 'go slow' period.
Doctors have told the 37-year-old Australian, who broke two ribs in the accident during a team camp on Crans Montana in Switzerland, that he risks puncturing his lung should he perform overly high-intensity exertions, such as those done in racing.
"I've got to be very careful for three weeks - I'll be able to do some strength work on the legs, some home trainer [work], some cross-training, stair-climbing... anything that's low intensity," said O'Grady.
"It's not the ideal preparation I had in mind for the start of the season - I'm very disappointed and it's very frustrating. It wasn't even a crash on the bike this time, which makes it even more bizarre."
It means that next month's Jayco Bay Series are "almost an impossibility" for the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project rider, although he says he will be riding the Santos Tour Down Under later that month, albeit with reduced ambitions for overall honours.
The two-time Tour Down Under champion and 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner was confident that the accident won't hinder his ambitions for the Northern Classics, where he will be captain on the road with 2010 Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders champion Fabian Cancellara in the squad and expectations high that the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project will be amongst the favourites for these events.
"I'm not concerned about that at all, actually... I'm just going to see this as a bit of a hiccup and obviously you can't plan for things like this; through an athlete's season there's always something that goes wrong along the way. Mine just happened to occur at the start of the year, not the end of the year," O'Grady explained.
He believes that consistent work throughout November and December - before the fall - will pay dividends in light of his current situation.
"Last season I had a full, long calendar which started in January and basically went all the way through to the world championships. So I've got a huge base there... I had a pretty short break of only three weeks' rest and then kicked off on November 1 over here and had a really, really good November - probably the best November I've pieced together for many years," he said.
"I've already done some quality rides and more gym than I've ever done before; the base is there and okay, I might not be in the form that I would have liked to have been in for the Tour Down Under but you've just got to take it on the chin and stay positive and look forward.
"If I can maintain a steady base through this then it's definitely not going to be a hindrence to the Classics. I'll be firing on all cylinders when it counts, for sure."