By John Trevorrow
After the Australian 60 Minutes TV crew left Stuart O'Grady's room, he finally relaxed and gave more detail about his accident. He told Cyclingnews that he actually felt he was lucky, "If I hadn't hit that post I would have gone over a 10 metre embankment".
O'Gady's thoughts were on his performance leading up to the accident. "The most infuriating aspect of it all is the fact that I was feeling great, the best I had felt in the Tour."
He described climbing the big mountain with the front group and how he "felt pretty happy about that". Then he went back for some bottles to help his "boys" out. "I was loaded up. I was coming back to the group and I remember thinking ‘don't go too hard because it was a tight descent and I had plenty of time to get back on the peloton'.
"But as I came around the corner an Astana guy suddenly swerved, around a hole or a rock or something, and the next thing [I know] I hit the post at about 80 clicks. I came to a very abrupt halt," O'Grady explained with dry humour.
"I didn't lose consciousness. It's not very often I scream but I was screaming like a little baby. I struggled to breath and all the broken ribs and cracked vertebrae, well I just smashed that hard I couldn't breath."
He is understandably frustrated now, being confined to a hospital bed. "It's really hard to lay here and watch the Tour on TV. I sometimes joke about retiring and having a bit of fun watching the Tour, but I'm not ready for that yet. I just want to be out there, racing my bike.
"It's going to take a while to come back. I hope to be able to get back on the bike in August but I can't see me getting good enough form for the later season races. I was looking forward to riding the Worlds and it is a hard one and I even contemplated riding the Vuelta (Espana) as preparation."
O'Grady also reflected on compatriots Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) and Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) being felled by the Tour, which has no mercy at times.
"Gee it was bad luck for Mick. I just watched the highlights before and he was on a ride. Hard luck for Robbie too. I said to the boys the other day that I didn't think Robbie would finish as he obviously hadn't gotten over the fall (in stage 1) and he couldn't put any pressure on up the climbs."
O'Grady is frustrated he can no longer help his teammates in the 2007 race. "I'm really going too miss being with guys and helping Carlos (Sastre) and Frank (Schleck). I guess the only consolation is that I've still got that rock [the cobble stone he received for winning Paris-Roubaix earlier this year - ed.] sitting on the mantlepiece at home."
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