Stuart O'Grady calmly fronted the media on Monday morning prior to a training ride with his GreenEdge team, to discuss his reaction to the allegation that he assaulted a chauffeur that drove him home from a function on January 10.
The news broke on the eve of the Santos Tour Down Under, GreenEdge's WorldTour debut. The team's general manager Shayne Bannan said that they would be supporting O'Grady throughout the ordeal
"We're concerned for the welfare of Stuey and to make sure that we're running through the correct processes and doing everything correctly," Bannan confirmed.
"The guys are pretty focussed. We're obviously fairly protective of our image as well so we're hoping that it's cleared up as quickly as possible."
Meantime O'Grady aired his disappointment over the situation.
"I think it's pretty outrageous," O'Grady explained. "I'm very disappointed. I think, you know, I was a guest speaker at a dinner, I had a fantastic night. I just find it very bizarre with the timing, if I'd done any of these accusations why it's taken a week for it to come out?
"It's very strange circumstances and from what I hear this isn't the first time this person's pulled this kind of, I'm going to call it a stunt because... I'm just very disappointed because I think anybody that knows me and my character. I'm a long, long way from doing anything like that."
O'Grady categorically denied that he assaulted Ralf Hadzic, from Life is a Cabernet chauffeur service in the car after an argument broke out over the wearing of a seatbelt with it also being alleged that the Paris-Roubaix winner threw a glass in the vehicle. Police, who have yet to speak to O'Grady, confirmed that the incident is being treated as a "minor physical assault".
The 38-year-old said that his side of the story would be corroborated by his "wife and two other friends in the car," following the function.
"We were coming back in the car and having a good old sing-a-long in the car and the last time I knew that that wasn't really an offence to have a bit of a sing to the radio," O'Grady explained. "That was it."
It's understood the man making the allegations approached a tabloid current affairs program prior to approaching police.
"If any kind of accusation was half true then why didn't the police come and interview me a week ago?" O'Grady queried. "They've got a complaint. And I'll be happy to talk to them."
With sportspeople firmly in the public eye and under mounting scrutiny for their actions away from their profession, O'Grady admitted he was saddened to be the latest to have his behaviour called into question.
"I honestly can't believe there's people like this out there that I've heard about it but to be on the receiving end of it is, you know I'm really, really disappointed," he said. "I've called him to apologise for having a bit of fun and having a bit of a sing in his car and he go quite aggressive back so he's obviously got some issues.
"Let's just clear this up and end it. And get on with the bike riding."
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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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