By Shane Stokes
Following top ten placings in stages of the Tour of California and the Tour of Qatar, Stuart O’Grady is heading into Tirreno-Adriatico confident that his form is on the up.
"I am feeling pretty good," he told Cyclingnews on Tuesday evening. "I have put in the base, I have put in the foundation, and now the results have to come in the next month. That is what I have been building up for.
"We spent the first couple of months either in training camps or racing, so it has been pretty intense preparation for the classics. I was working hard before Qatar and California so definitely wasn’t peaking for either. But from now on things will start getting a bit more serious, so hopefully the results will flow after all the hard work."
O’Grady has been fourth and third in the last two editions of Milano-San Remo and would like to go even higher on the podium. This and the Tour of Flanders are two of his dream races; Tirreno Adriatico will play an important part in making sure the 32 year-old is ready for the first of those.
"It is usually a hard race, but the finishes give you very good preparation for San Remo," he said. "Last year I kind of struggled through it but came pretty good for San Remo, while the year before I was fourth overall. It is definitely a lot tougher circuit this year. My goals are to get some good sprints in and get through the race as best I can. Notching up a win would of course be very nice. As regards overall aspirations, they would lie more with Basso. With a time trial and a mountaintop finish, it will be a bit more up his alley... He’s probably not thinking of being in contention for the overall result, but he is definitely quite psyched for the time trial. There is a 12-kilometre mountaintop finish one day, and I think Ivan will be up there too."
2006 represents O’Grady’s first time racing with a team from outside France. He was with Cofidis for the past two seasons, then Crédit Agricole and GAN before that. He’s pretty impressed thus far with CSC. "It has been everything I have thought it would be, and probably a little bit more," O'Grady said. "It has been really good, the team is definitely extremely professional and at the same time, it is a really good group of people. They work hard, but they know how to enjoy it and make the best out of it as well. So it has definitely been good so far."
A full Stuart O’Grady feature will follow soon on Cyclingnews.