Cycling Australia has annouunced that Stuart O’Grady is due to be released from hospital in Valencia today after collapsing at the city’s MotoGP circuit on Sunday. The cyclist collapsed and suffered a seizure shortly after completing a “hot lap” of the circuit, riding pillion to former Moto GP rider Randy Mamola.
O’Grady told Cycling Australia: “"When the ride finished of course I could feel my heart rate soaring, my blood pressure rising, but I didn't give it much more thought. But then I started having blotchy vision and 20 minutes later I had a seizure and collapsed. It was possibly the extreme 'hyper tension' or maybe an old scar on my brain from one of my previous crashes but there's no use speculating or guessing, it's happened and that's that."
The Saxo Bank rider, whose palmarès include two stage wins in the Tour de France, in which he has also worn the yellow jersey, victory in the 2007 edition of Paris-Roubaix and an Olympic gold medal in the Madison in 2004, has suffered a catalogue of injuries both on and off the bike during his career.
In 1999, a mugging in his then home city of Toulouse left O’Grady with a fractured skull, and two years ago he suffered five broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken shoulder after a crash in the Tour de France. He has also had treatment for an abnormally high heartbeat and blocked artery, and has broken bones on a number of occasions.
Despite his body’s reaction, O’Grady claims he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, saying: “The ride around the Valencia circuit was unbelievable. I've jumped out of planes, been in a Russian fighter jet, a V8 Supercar, the works - but the twin seater Ducati blows them all out of the water,” adding “I have never come close to the experience of hanging on for your life.”
"The braking on those bikes had my feet coming off the rear pegs, and my butt way off the seat, the acceleration meant I needed my full strength to hang onto the machine and not get flicked out onto the track in front of 90 thousand fans," he added. "It was something I will never forget and would do again tomorrow if my body could handle it."
O’Grady ruled out a change of sports to Moto GP, saying: “I think I'll stick to my 'little pushie' where we only hit 80 -100k an hour – I'll leave those MotoGP bikes to the legends that are riding them!”
Meanwhile, O’Grady has acquired a new nickname – “the one lap wonder” – courtesy of his friend, Britain’s David Millar, who was at the circuit with him. In response, the Australian quipped, “"It takes more than one lap to get rid of me."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.