By Gregor Brown in Recanati
Australian Stuart O'Grady, winner of the 2007 Paris-Roubaix, has made the long road to recovery since his devastating crash last July in the Tour de France, and is now racing in the Tirreno-Adriatico. The Italian race is giving the 34 year-old of Team CSC a good indicator of his form, which he believes will be "fine-tuned" by April.
"It is going good already, I am cruising along. I am felling better day by day as the race goes on," he noted after finishing the 26-kilometre time trial stage to Recanati in Le Marche. Though, he could have done without the wall of a finish two days prior. "It was pretty ridiculous," he said of the greater than 20 percent gradients on Montelupone. "It was the first time in my life I had to click out and walk up. There were guys that were crashing back down the hill, so I had no choice."
O'Grady is looking ahead to Milano-Sanremo and then to April's big races with his form on target. "I had a lot of work. A big thanks to the chiropractors," stated O'Grady, who returned to competition in the Herald Sun Tour in Victoria in October. "I missed a big chunk of last season, but I have had a good intense first few months to this season. There has been a lot of hard work, and now it is just a matter of fine tuning the engine.
Sanremo will give him a chance to fine tune before Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. "Normally, I am never super at this race. I think I will be good at Sanremo, but I think I will be even better in a few weeks. Sanremo is always difficult to call based on Tirreno. It is good for preparation, and that is why we are here, but I am aiming for Flanders and Roubaix."
CSC is blessed with the super-talented Fabian Cancellara, who is also building for Ronde and Roubaix; however he has shown that he is on winning form now thanks to the Monte Paschi Eroica and Tirreno.
"He is flying at the moment," O'Grady agreed. "In Sanremo we have to get over the Poggio and weigh the situation." The team won't likely send Cancellara away on the Poggio, "that won't be our job. We will let the other guys do that. We will just try to stay at the front for best position. It is who ever has the legs after 300 kilometres."