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Olympic news for August 31
Australian cyclists prepare
Things haven't exactly been going smoothly for certain members of the Australian Cycling Team, as they get ready for the Olympics next month. Stuart O'Grady's Tour de France crash resulted in a broken collarbone and several weeks off the bike, while more recently Robbie McEwen crashed in the Ronde van Nederland, but was comparatively unhurt. Things are looking up now though, with both Henk Vogels and Stuart O'Grady finding their form again, as the following excepts from their diaries show. (To read the full diaries, go to Ride Cycling Review's website).
However, the team suffered another setback today after track rider, Brad McGee broke his collarbone.
McGee breaks collarbone
With just over two weeks out from the Games, one of Australia's key pursuit riders, Brad McGee has broken his collarbone whilst on a training ride. However, he will have surgery today to put a plate in his left shoulder so he can resume training as quickly as possible.
24 year old McGee hails from Sydney, but was out training on the road in Adelaide earlier today with several other members of the Olympic track squad. His teammate, Michael Rogers recalled the crash: "We stopped at a set of lights and as we rode out of the intersection Brad was about 20 metres behind us. He ran into a traffic island. We don't really know how because he was behind us at the time and we only realised when Browny (Graeme Brown) yelled out for us to come back."
He was helped up by his teammates who gave him a quick check before being taken to hospital for further examination. Cycling Australia's High Performance Manager, Michael Flynn, said "The doctors say he'll be okay to compete at the Olympics and he will fly to Rockhampton as scheduled on Saturday with the rest of the track team for a final training camp before the Games."
Editor's note: If removing pins is bad (see below), I don't want to think about a steel plate...
Vogels campaigns in France and Belgium
"Well, for the last time for this year I've headed to Europe to do the smash and run. After a 12 hour flight from my house in the Boulder, Colorado. We landed in Paris and fought sleep that day. With two days to recover from the Jetlag, we went on a small training ride around the town of Soissons, after 500 metres two of our guys went around a hard turn and stacked it big time (skin off from arse to breakfast time), so their training ride was half a kilometre, but we continued after seeing that they didn't need to go to the hospital."
The next day, Vogels and his Manheim/Mercury team rode in the 1.5 GP Soissons, where they finished 4th (Vogels) and 5th (Sayers) respectively, despite being "a bit rusty". Henk made the winning break, and described the finale:
"With a lap to go I thought I had it in the bag - I was attacking again on the descent and was away with one French Oktos rider with my teammate sitting on. I was caught with one kilometre to go so I was finished for the sprint. We finished 4th and 5th respectively (ouch!). We justified it by saying to ourselves we were jetlagged. Yeah, that's it!"
The next day they travelled to Antwerp, Belgium for the 1.4 category Schaal Sels, where Vogels almost pulled off a dramatic win. In a photo finish, it was decided that Rabobank's Stephen De Jongh had won, but only just. Henk had even started to give the post-race winners interview...
Towards the end, he "found myself in a 10 man move with Van Bon, Stephen De Jongh, Mario Aerts, John Talen, Hendrik van Dijk, Roger Hammond and five other guys. We were working hard and went out to 45 seconds with one lap to go before we were caught by the bunch with two kilometres to go."
At this point, many riders would have called it a day, leaving the fresher ones to contest the sprint. However, "my team went straight to the front and screamed at me to get on, they took me to the last corner where I was overtaken by Van Dijk and De Jongh who are good sprinters: De Jongh hit out with 400 metres to go and I was drag racing him all the way to the line. I thought I had won it and he thought he had won it... it went to the photo. He won by 3mm, so I was really pissed off but happy that I still had some legs after 200km."
Stuart O'Grady: Unleaded and in Italy
O'Grady's broken collarbone in the Tour de France resulted in an operation where several pins were inserted to help set the bone. However, he had them removed on August 25 due to pain whilst racing, "the larger of the two pins, 10cms long, was pushing against my skin because of the vibrations from the road," during the Tour du Limousin.
He abandoned during the third stage and went straight to Bordeaux hospital to have the pins removed on Friday morning. "It was like a bad dream. Here I was again, in the cool hospital outfit, in amongst all the casualties from the weekend holiday makers in the south of France."
After being locally anaesthetized by the surgeon, O'Grady witnessed the operation in its full gory detail "like any human, something makes you look. I had one nurse trying to keep me calm on my left, the surgeon sitting to my right talking to me, himself trying to keep a steady hand (hope he didn't have too much coffee this morning)."
The five weeks worth of bone and pin growth did not make things easy (gory bits deleted) and "it wasn't pretty. I don't recommend it. I think I called him everything I knew which, to my dismay, I found out he understood every word. Smart little French Doc wasn't he?! I apologised later and said it was just the spur of the moment that brought the swearing out of me..."
O'Grady asked for the pins as mementos to pain, and then proceeded to drive down to Dave Millar's house in Biarritz, although he claims he wasn't speeding.
Then it was straight back to racing in the four day Tour Du Poitou-Charentes, where he said "the shoulder is 100 per cent better without the pins in it. I have so much more movement it's unbelievable. Getting out the seat and getting amongst the sprints is not a problem at all... all good news."
Then it was home (Toulouse) for a day before heading to Italy last Wednesday to do three one day races starting on the 31st of August with the Trofeo Melinda. "Only good thing about going over there is that for once we should be eating pasta which has some taste - something the Frogs just can't seem to do."
In Italy (Ronzone) it is "hilly; I mean really hilly! Mountains. And they scare me. We are at about 900 metres altitude at this hotel and we just drove up the hill that we'll be descending tomorrow, that looked pretty cool: the downhill part that is. I'll try and stay on the bike this time, wouldn't hurt for a change. Just to give it that extra hint of excitement though, it's pissing down rain!"
He intends using it for training purposes, "The racing here is totally hard-core! We have a reasonably good team here though, with Julich, Voigt and a couple of the frogs who climb okay... So Maggy [Backstedt] and I will be there to give them a hand early on."
The crash in the Tour might have done his motivation some good though, as a lot of riders are clearly tired at this end of the season. "There seems to be a major shortage of guys putting their hands up for races. It's understandable if you've had a big year, through all the Classics and then the Tour de France. Your mind can only be tricked into peaking itself on so many occasions."
"But, luckily for me, I have plenty of motivation and a whole heap of morale, so I figure if I'm going to get hurt tomorrow by these little Italian climbers, I might as well take as many of them down with me while I can! Hit em early and hang on for as long as you can! I'll let you know the result!"
McEwen on the mend
My shoulder injury is coming along well and I'm planning my comeback to racing this Saturday in the Ronde van Midden Zeeland in Holland. My injuries are/were a luxation of the left acromio clavicular joint (torn ligaments where the collarbone meets the shoulderblade), a sprained wrist (left) and a sprained elbow (left).
I started rehab physio last Thursday, one day after my crash in stage 3 of the Tour of Holland. That was the one day I didn't ride my bike but have been doing 3 hours a day on the home trainer every day since and tomorrow (Tuesday) I'm back on the road and continuing my physio treatment here in Belgium. I have been having 2 hours physio per day to mobilise all my joints, get the injured muscles supple and doing stabilising exercises. I'll be riding the Tour of Poland from Sept. 4 till 10th then returning to Australia on Sept. 12 for the final lead to the Olympics.
It has been a setback but fortunately hasn't kept me from training hard and I will still have a good preparation for Sydney.