In the least surprising piece of transfer news regarding an Australian former world champion since, ooh, this morning’s announcement that Michael Rogers is joining Team Sky, The Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project has confirmed that Stuart O’Grady will be following the Schleck brothers in moving from Team Saxo Bank.
In a press release, the team’s management company, Leopard SA, said that it expects O’Grady “to play a leading role in honing the skill set of the team’s youth brigade.”
Presumably, that won’t include leading younger members of the outfit astray in late-night drinking sessions midway through a Grand Tour, as happened during September’s Vuelta when O’Grady and Andy Schleck were thrown out of the race by their former boss Bjarne Riis after enjoying a late night cerveza or two against team orders, as clear a signal as any that the Australian was likely to figure in the new Luxembourg team’s plans.
“Stuart is a real legend and probably among the most phenomenal athletes of his
generation,” said General Manager Brian Nygaard. “He has won everything worth winning on the track, as well as an impressive list of victories on the road, topped off by claiming one of the most beautiful recent editions of the Paris-Roubaix,” referring to the Australian’s victory in the 2007 edition of the race.
The 37-year-old certainly has some impressive victories on both the road and track among his palmarès, including three Tour de France stage wins and two separate stints in the maillot jaune in the 1998 race, and overall victories in the Tour Down Under, where he twice topped the general classification, plus the Herald Sun Tour and the Tour of Britain as well as two world team pursuit titles and Olympic gold in the Madison in 2004.
O’Grady is looking forward to passing on his know-how to a younger generation at his new team. “I enjoy the challenge of being road captain,” he explained. “It is not as easy as it sounds. I have to use my knowledge, to keep the 'young guns' cool, calm and collected when the going gets tough. I remind the guys to work as a team, to support each other, to respect each other, and to give 100%.”
“Stuart is technically brilliant and has a very sound mind,” continued Nygaard. “He is instrumental in setting up a road strategy and can carry a team through a Tour.”
The Australian, who has 16 years’ experience as a pro in his legs, acknowledges that “experience is something you cannot buy and it is a nice value to pass on,” but also has his own goals for next year. “Personally I want to have another big classics season,” he said.
“I have been a bit unlucky with injuries and broken bones since winning Roubaix in 2007. So it would be nice to win some big races with the team and of course help the Schlecks win the Tour de France! Most importantly of all, enjoy cycling, racing and giving it 100% every time.”
Certainly Nygaard views O’Grady as a key signing as he continues to put his team together. “Stuart is such an asset and will be instrumental to the success of this
team,” the Dane concluded.
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.