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O'Grady finds satisfaction in support role

Stuart O'Grady had to work a lot

Stuart O'Grady had to work a lot (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Daniel Benson in Paris

If you've been thinking where has Stuart O'Grady been during this year's race you're probably not alone. In past editions of Le Tour the quiet Australian has carved himself a reputation as a breakaway-specialist with an almost, but not quite deadly sprint. This year however, O'Grady has seen his role morph within the CSC team. The man who wore the yellow and the green jersey during the 2001 Tour has taken on a new role, that of a super domestique for Fränk Shleck and now Carlos Sastre.

"It's given me a real deep satisfaction. In this team it's not all about crossing the line first or getting in the break. It's about being part of the team and working for the whole. That's why you've seen me use my energy riding tempo up the mountains like the Galibier. It's something which I've never done before, but I've given it one hundred percent," he said, illustrating just how far he's come since the young sprinter turned professional with Gan in 1996.

O'Grady revealed that is this new path has been down to the influence of one man, team manager Bjarne Riis. "Bjarne has been a huge factor on me in the last few years. If I had not come here (CSC) I probably would have hung up my wheels by now. He's been so important for getting the best out of us and it's been proved with how I've done in the Classics."

With only one stage left in the Tour O'Grady has already turned one eye towards Beijing and the Olympics, where he'll compete in the road race alongside Cadel Evans, Simon Gerrans, Michael Rogers and Matt Lloyd. Lining up in his fifth Games, it's on that he'll be relishing. "It's a pretty strong team. Evans has shown how strong he's been at the Tour. Gerrans will play a big role too. The rest of the guys I'm sure have trained really well without doing the Tour. The whole team will be good."

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