By Jeff Jones
This season's classics hopes of Stuart O'Grady (CSC) have vanished after a crash during the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, between Tivoli and Frascati. After hitting a pothole, O'Grady fell hard, breaking his collarbone and five ribs. He is unlikely to be back to full fitness for six to eight weeks, according to team director Scott Sunderland.
"We were racing in and around Rome," Sunderland told Cyclingnews. "There was a lot of parked cars and some bad roads. There was a big pothole and Stuey went straight into it, didn't he? They're racing so hard, with 200 riders pushing and shoving, and he went down. He broke five ribs and a collarbone. What was going perfectly to plan and getting ready for Milan-San Remo and the classics is all gone. He's in a lot of pain.
"He could possibly be back on the bike in two to three weeks, on the home trainer. The collarbone is the least problem: It's the ribs that's going to be a problem. They can be four to five weeks, but after six weeks you can still be hurting when you're climbing.
"We have to redo his program a bit, and we'll just see what happens, when we can get back into it. We have to look at other races. There are some good stage races, and a possibility to go to the Giro, maybe the Tour, but at this moment, it's too early to say. It depends a lot on when he can do proper training. He's not a rider who you just have riding around.
"He'll be back, but it's a big blow for him. It's our fourth rider this week: Vandevelde and Blaudzun, who has tendon damage on his knee; Breschel, who has to stay in hospital until at least next Wednesday or Thursday - that's a week and a half for him in hospital. The team's lost two of our good riders for the classics in O'Grady and Breschel."