Stuart O'Grady breaks ribs while out on the piste with Team Leopard
Aussie survived Bjarne Riis's SAS-style boot camps, but comes a cropper on Swiss ski slopes
He may have survived several of Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis’s notorious pre-season SAS-style boot camps, but Stuart O’Grady’s career with his new employers, Team Leopard, has got off to a bad start with the Australian breaking ribs whle skiing at a training camp near Lugano in the Swiss Alps.
O'Grady followed the Schleck brothers to 'Team Leopard', as the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project is rumoured to be called - confirmation of that, or another name reflecting a title sponsor, will come early in the new year - in a move that had been widely anticipated, particularly after he and Andy Schleck were thrown out of September's Vuelta by Team Saxo Bank after being caught returning to the team hotel in the early hours after going out for a beer.
According to the Herald Sun newspaper, the injury may keep the 37-year-old out of the Jayco Bay Classic in Victoria on 2 January, however, he is expected to take part in next month’s Santos Tour Down Under, which kicks off the 2011 UCI World Calendar season, a race he won in 1999 and 2001.
O’Grady’s brother Darren told the newspaper that his brother, winner of Olympic gold in the Madison at Athens in 2004 and Paris-Roubaix in 2007 had been “knocked around” during the accident.
He continued: "He told us he's OK and that he's back home in Monaco,” adding, “he's fit and he thinks it will take him a couple of weeks to recover.
"He should be firing by the time the Tour Down Under comes around."
O’Grady has an unfortunate history when it comes to injury.
Just over a year ago, he was taken to hospital in Valencia after collapsing and suffering a seizure shortly after completing a “hot lap” of the Valencia MotoGP circuit, riding pillion to former MotoGP rider Randy Mamola.
In 1999, he suffered a fractured skull as a result of a mugging in his then home city of Toulouse, and three years ago a crash during the Tour de France left him with five broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken shoulder.
The cyclist has broken bones on a number of other occasions, and has also been treated for an abnormally high heartbeat and blocked artery.