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7th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC
Australia, January 18-23, 2005
Interview for January 20, 2005
Every second counts
By Gabriella Ekström in Adelaide
Cofidis rider Stuart O'Grady has ridden pretty aggressively during the first stages of Tour Down Under, and it was no surprise that he got in the main break that took off early in stage 3. The break was let away by the peloton since 11 of the race's 12 teams were represented in it, and as the time gap grew to over 11 minutes, O'Grady set his eyes on Victor Harbour where he won a stage in 1999 and then went on to win the entire race.
"Originally I had told my team that this shouldn't be a hard stage, but when I looked outside this morning and saw the wind, I instantly let them know that we were in for a nasty day. I often train on these roads, and I know how hard it can get when it's windy like this," O'Grady told Cyclingnews back at the hotel after the stage. "My plan before this morning was to try and conserve my energy for tomorrow's stage, but as soon as I got out on the road, I felt that today was the day when it would all happen It was time for the selection to be made."
So instead of conserving his strengths, O'Grady was indeed very active in the break, and contested the intermediate sprints, where he finished third on two occasions. "In this race, every second counts, so I had a go at the sprints to collect some bonus seconds. Grillo and Davis were going pretty fast too though. Hopefully tomorrow and on Saturday they might not all be up there, while I will."
After finishing tenth in the stage, 18 seconds down on stage winner and new race leader Luis Sanchez, Stuart was not pleased with how the day had turned out for him. "When there are four or five Liberty Seguros guys and four Credit Agricoles up there, and we only got two of ourselves in the break, it will turn into a numbers game. The attacks started with 25 kilometres to go, and we followed as many as we could, but after a while, it just got impossible to chase them all down."
Ending up 20 seconds down on Sanchez in the general classification, O'Grady realised that he had a hard job ahead of him if he wanted to make that time up during the coming stages, but his ambitions still remained the same as before the stage.
"It's going to be difficult to make a difference now, as Liberty Seguros has such a strong team, and they will not give the jersey away easily after this. However, I'm not here to finish fifth, I'm here to win the race. Stages are nice, but they don't really matter now. I'm here for the overall, but Liberty Seguros will be a tough nut to crack. You just can't give away any seconds in this race.