Stuart O’Grady is not even seeing himself as a contender in this year’s Tour Down Under, but is instead focusing on training and getting his racing legs back into competitive shape during this year’s Australian tour.
O’Grady explained that his preparation was not enough for the Tour Down Under, and that he just doesn’t have the power needed to stay on the climbs, much less get a win. His goal for now is to finish each stage as best as he can and “spend hours on the bike.”
He has recently recovered from bacterial pneumonia last December 2009 and was cleared by his doctors as physically fit enough to continue racing. However, O’Grady says that this year’s Tour Down Under will just be a stepping stone for him to be able to get back into shape for the Spring Classics.
As the winner of Australia’s biggest stage race back in 1999 and 2001 – the first time as the inaugural champion – O’Grady has developed a reputation as a winner and fierce competitor, using experience and determination to win races whenever physical prowess failed.
He had a good – if not excellent – season last year, but it was marred by a nasty crash during the Milan-San Remo race. It cost him a punctured lung, a broken collar bone and a broken rib. His injuries also cost him an appearance in the classics, and in December of last year, he was hospitalized for pneumonia, and later on for a seizure after completing a lap in the Valencia circuit.