Stuart O’Grady joins GreenEDGE cycling team
Veteran Australian cyclist Stuart O’Grady said it was the hardest decision of his career to leave Leopard-Trek and the Schleck brothers to join new Australian pro team GreenEDGE.
O’Grady, 38, joins young guns Jack Bobridge and Cameron and Travis Meyer as the first racers to commit to the new team.
The South Australian brings a wealth of experience to the table, having contested the Tour de France 15 times and raced at five Olympic Games, highlighted by a gold medal in 2004.
“I’ve spent quite a few years supporting the Schleck brothers (Frank and Andy) at the Tour de France and Fabian (Cancellara) in the classics and doing that job alongside Jens Voigt,” O’Grady said in a statement.
“We’ve been like a family.
“It’s been a privilege racing with those guys and leaving Leopard-Trek to join GreenEDGE has been the hardest decision of my career.”
But the lure of joining an Australian team was too strong to resist.
“I wasn’t sure such a team would come around before I retired but I’m glad it has,” said O’Grady.
“I’ve been racing for a long time and seen the evolution of Australian cycling from guys like Phil Anderson, Neil Stephens and Patrick Jonker to myself as part of the generation that followed and now we’ve got an impressive group of young riders coming through.
“For a country where cycling is a relatively small sport, the progress in such a short period of time has been incredible.”
GreenEDGE is aiming to become Australia’s first UCI World Tour-licenced team in 2012.
For the team’s cycling general manager Shayne Bannan, O’Grady will play a crucial mentoring role while also helping build a squad for the big one-day races.
“He can teach our guys stuff on the road that simply can’t be communicated from the team car sitting behind the peloton,” Bannan said of O’Grady, who has captained his teams in recent years at the Tour de France, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
O’Grady is the only Australian to have won Paris-Roubaix – the world’s most famous one-day race – back in 2007, and said he still aspired to achieve more success in the one-day classics with GreenEDGE.
“I know the notebook Fabian Cancellara uses in Roubaix because we came up with it together,” he said.
“There’ll be plenty of races the younger guys can go for but that’s my major personal goal.”© AAP 2013
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