Inaugural champion won't be at best for home event
Contrary to media reports earlier this week, Saxo Bank rider Stuart O'Grady will ride the Tour Down Under next January, the Australian told by Dr Peter Barnes this morning his condition it suitable to begin training.
O'Grady has been suffering from pneumonia since arriving home in Australia, the inaugural winner of Australia's biggest stage race forced to miss the Launceston International Criterium and very nearly being a non-starter at his home event.
"It's just been a case of no physical activity - just lying around the house has been frustrating," said O'Grady. "This morning I got the all clear from the doctor to actually start riding again very lightly; there's still a bit of an infection in the body," he explained.
O'Grady's aware that his intense competitive spirit could get the better of him during the race but understands the consequences of pushing a body that is under-prepared for the rigours of a hot, week-long event at the beginning of the year. That doesn't stop him thinking about success, however.
"It's most important now not to push my body too far into the red and past the limit, which could be detrimental to the rest of the season," he said. "I definitely won't be in the form I've been in the last few years
"Last year I said I hadn't enjoyed the build up I wanted before the Tour Down Under and nearly pulled it [a win] off. It's going to be really hard to be on the start line and I'm not there for the win.
"It's going to take a lot of self-control to not bury myself out there on the road, and I haven't done that before," he added.
With several health scares - crashes included - during 2009, O'Grady says he's just looking forward to maintaining a clean bill of health. And while one eye is on his medical checklist, the other is on his chances in a race he won in 2007 - Paris Roubaix.
Next year will see him line up for the famed Classic in northern France and he's certainly there to win. "I'm going to place my personal objectives on Paris-Roubaix; the whole team knows it's there for me and Fabian Cancellara. That's it for me personally, and after that I'm more than happy to ride for the boys at the Tour de France again," he said.
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