He’s more Classics rider than mountain climber, but Saxo Bank’s Stuart O’Grady had a plucky ride on the final climb of the Alto de Velefique on Friday. He dug deep to close up to Julián Sanchez (Contentpolis – Ampo) and eventual stage winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Slipstream) after they had attacked in pursuit of David Gardia (Xacobeo Galicia).
While he cracked and finished the stage 4:14 minutes back in 37th place, his aggression shows that he is set on posting a good end of season. “It wasn’t exactly my preferred kind of stage. I just tried everything but it is a bit out of my league,” the visibly shattered Australian told Cyclingnews after he finsished.
“The plan was actually to try to take today a little bit easy,” he said. “As usual, what you do ends up being the opposite of what you plan. There were a lot of attacks at the start and I found myself in the right move. It was a pretty good group and I thought that if we played our cards right, we would go a long way. But it was always going to be a mission impossible [to climb with the best riders].”
O’Grady said that he will wait until he recovers before possibly trying again. Next week several flatter stages will take the rider closer to Madrid and, legs permitting, these will give him a better opportunity to leave his mark.
However, whatever happens, his main goal comes one week after the Vuelta ends. “I am here because of the worlds,” he said. "”This is all preparation for that. I’m trying to get myself to 100 percent condition and see what happens on the day. I haven’t seen the course but I’ve heard enough about it. You never know.”
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