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The current time in Athens is 02:00 on September 30, 2020
Olympic Cycling News for August 26, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Inspired choice for madison gold
Stuart O'Grady has worn the Tour de France yellow jersey, won stages in the Tour and taken out a World Cup event. But nothing compares to his first Olympic gold medal. O'Grady waited until his fourth Games to win his gold while teammate Graeme Brown won two at his second attempt when they teamed up to win the 50km madison race on Wednesady.
The South Australian has won a silver and two bronze since making his Games debut in Barcelona in 1992 and finally has the one he was after.
"I've won stages in the tour and a World Cup. The World Cup a couple of weeks ago was the highlight of my career, but this is just the next level," O'Grady said.
"There's 10 World Cups a year and only one Olympics every four years. "Since I was 18 in Barcelona, the hunger's never gone out. It's something I've always wanted. I had world championship gold, Commonwealth Games gold, I had everything but Olympic gold, it's just unbelievable."
O'Grady, 31, was controversially drafted in to the madison from the road race team to replace Mark Renshaw with little recent experience on the track. He told selectors in June he would like to ride the madison if he came out of the Tour de France in good form. His form in and after the tour was brilliant and although he finished 33rd in the draining Olympic road race on the first day of competition, his selection for the madison was a master stroke.
"I'm over the moon with it," said Brown, who won the 4000m team pursuit gold on Monday. "I only found out two weeks ago. I was a little shocked at first, then once it actually sunk in I thought, well that's a pretty bloody good idea.
"So, hats off to the coaching staff for thinking outside the circle and putting their heads on the line by bringing Stuey in."
Head coach Shayne Bannan hailed O'Grady's performance last night.
"That was special, you only uncover him once every four years," Bannan said. "It took him 20 laps to get going, but he was a class above anybody else out there.
"Stuart O'Grady didn't come here to sell raffle tickets, he came here to win an Olympic Games gold medal. If he had felt he couldn't be a major part of that, he wouldn't have put his hand up and when he puts his hand up, you know he's going to give you his best."
He may also have had another secret weapon after borrowing roommate and sprint and keirin gold medallist Ryan Bayley's track skinsuit to ride in. "The speed must have rubbed off," he said.
Walsh proud of Aussie success
The most successful week in Australian cycling history has left Charlie Walsh feeling like a proud father. Martin Barras' predecessor as national head track coach today singled out overall head coach Shayne Bannan, track endurance coach Ian McKenzie and madison gold duo Stuart O'Grady and Graeme Brown as he lauded the Australian cycling domination at the Athens Olympics. Walsh was a coaching mentor to Bannan and McKenzie through the 1990s.
"I just sent an e-mail to Shayne, I waited until it was all finished, I'm just so proud in particular of him and Ian McKenzie," Walsh said. "I had personal involvement with quite a number of [the cyclists] and they're now older, before they were racing as boys."
Australia's win in the 4000m team pursuit this week was its first Olympic title in the event since the combination nicknamed "Charlie's Angels" won at the 1984 Games. Walsh resigned as head coach after the Sydney Olympics, ending a 20-year stint where he oversaw the creation of a national cycling program.
He was also often embroiled in controversy as Australian cycling struggled through growing pains and its many maverick personalities repeatedly clashed. Walsh made a clean break from Australian cycling after 2000, but stayed involved in the sport as a coaching consultant.
Through his long-time association with new Adelaide coach Neil Craig, Walsh now also helps out with fitness work at the Crows. Walsh said he would have a quiet celebration this weekend in Adelaide with O'Grady's parents. O'Grady finally won an Olympic gold medal last night in his fourth Games, after his surprise selection in the madison with Brown.
"I can remember Ian McKenzie saying he was thinking about O'Grady in the madison," Walsh said. "Stuart is someone who always gives the very, very best of what he's got."
Walsh said he sent O'Grady an e-mail a year and a half ago, suggesting the rider possibly ride one or two six-day track races in Europe if he wanted to put himself in the frame to ride the madison for Australia.
"Let's also not discount Browny. He is such a fierce competitor and whatever you ask of him, he does," Walsh said.
Gané's motivation gone
Seven-time world champion Laurent Gané of France confessed Wednesday that he never found the morale to fight in his last day of competition after being knocked out of the individual sprint competition. Gané lost to eventual gold medal winner Ryan Bayley in the semi-finals of the men's sprint, then missed the bronze medal after a solid defeat by German Rene Wolff. Gané's luck in the Olympics has not been good, but the accomplished sprinter remains satisfied with his career.
"I had good moments in my career, but it's true the Olympics didn't smile on me," Gané told AP. "In the world championships I did have many good moments, and I have no complaints about my career. My favourite memory will always be my first world title in Berlin in 1999."
Returning for the keirin event Wednesday, the final day of track competition in Athens, Gané clearly lacked the spark necessary to make up for his sprint defeat.
"I couldn't motivate myself again," he said. "I didn't have the legs... nothing. The will wasn't there. I never got over my defeat [Tuesday]."
Gané plans to return to his native New Caledonia to work as a coach for young cyclists, passing his talent on to the coming generations just as his compatriot Florian Rousseau will in Paris.
"I don't feel anything in particular," he said of his retirement. "A page is
turning. For me, competition is finished but a new life is about to begin."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)