Organisers of the Revolution 2 track cycling meet at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena next Wednesday, December 19, have announced that 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady has been put on the list of participants. It will be the first time O'Grady will race on the track in Melbourne as professional team commitments forced him to miss the 2004 World Championships and 2006 Commonwealth Games.
O'Grady returned to Australia last week following a ten-day training camp in Norway with his team CSC, describing his progress after three months out of the saddle following a horrific crash on stage eight of this year's Tour de France as "still inconsistent". The 34 year-old fractured eight ribs, broke his shoulder, collarbone, three vertebrae, and punctured a lung in the accident that ended his Tour and threatened his career.
Still, O'Grady will return to track racing with a plan for 2008 that consists of defending his Paris-Roubaix title, returning to his best at the Tour de France and then hopefully racing for more Olympic gold in Beijing.
"The plan is still pretty broad," O'Grady said from Adelaide. "At the moment it's a matter of going through the selection policy and ticking the boxes to ensure we have as many options as possible for the Games. I'm keeping an open mind about the Games and I've sat down with the national coaches to talk about it. The road race is on a super difficult course and I'm into the track. If all goes well and I come out of the Tour de France then we will see what best suits."
O'Grady returned to racing in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in October and has made steady progress since, including a recent foray back to the boards in Adelaide. "I miss the track. I've hardly raced since Athens and zooming around the SuperDrome was great fun. I've never seen the track in Melbourne so I'm looking forward to it.
"It's all about keeping my hand in on the track and making progress generally after a pretty torrid second half of the year."
In the Revolution 2 event next Wednesday, O'Grady will compete in the Champions Race, a 30 lap race in which each of the riders will have their own motor paced bike on the track. The race will also feature Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion Matt Wilson, O'Grady's Olympic madison team-mate Graeme Brown, and sprinters Allan Davis and Aaron Kemps.
Whilst now better known as a road rider, O'Grady has collected several major championship medals on the track, including Olympic gold in the madison in Athens, silver in the team pursuit in Barcelona and bronze medals in the team pursuit and points race in Atlanta 1996. His Olympic medal haul is in addition to world championship and Commonwealth Games gold medals in a track career that is without peer in Australian cycling.
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