After earlier concerns, Aussie veteran Stuart O’Grady has been given the green light to start the Tour Down Under next month.
O’Grady, 37, was stricken with pneumonia that threatened his appearance at the ProTour opener, January 17-24.
The two-time winner of the Australian stage race was cleared by doctors this week, but admitted he likely won’t be in condition to win a third crown.
“It’s most important now not to push my body too far into the red and past the limit, which could be detrimental to the rest of the season,” O’Grady told the Australian wire service, AAP. “I definitely won’t be in the form I’ve been in the last few years. Last year I said I hadn’t enjoyed the build-up I wanted before the Tour and nearly pulled it off – it’s going to be really hard to be on the start line and I’m not there for the win. It’s going to take a lot of self-control to not bury myself out there on the road and I haven’t done that before.”
Other top Aussie riders are expected to line up, including reigning world champion Cadel Evans, who will debut with his new BMC team. Robbie McEwen is also expected to start.
Mark Renshaw’s Columbia-HTC team confirmed yesterday that their top lead-out man will miss the race as he recovers from the Eppstein-Barr virus.