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By Andrew Hood
How tough is Stuart O’Grady? Just look at the wrist bands he brought to the Tour de France this summer and you’ll find out.
The Paris-Roubaix champion is set to race this weekend for the first time since suffering a horrible crash in stage 8 to Tignes in the Tour de France.
O’Grady fell on the treacherous descent off the Roseland and fractured eight ribs, three vertebrae, a shoulder and collarbone and punctured his lung. The Aussie spent nearly a week in the hospital and wasn’t able to start training again until September.
O’Grady will race in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour from October 14-21 as part of a mixed Aussie squad.
“I’m just going to see whether I can get through each individual stage really. It would be great training for me ahead of next season, where Tour Down Under and the Australian Championships in three months are high on my list,” O’Grady said on Team CSC’s web page.
“At the same time I’m happy to get the opportunity to take part in a race like this, because normally I would never get the chance to do so. It enables me to give something back to the sport.”
T-Mobile pulls plug on season
German cycling T-Mobile announced Monday that it would cut its season short and skip the final two races over the next two weeks – the Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia.
“We’re acting in line with our commitment to clean and fair cycling,” team manager Bob Stapleton said.
As part of the fight against doping, teams are to be penalized by not competing for a week each time one of their riders tests positive.
During the season T-Mobile expelled two riders, Patrik Sinkewitz and Lorenzo Bernucci, for doping. —Agence France Presse
Simeoni signs with Ceramica Flaminia
Filippo Simeoni, one of the few riders to give testimony against Dr. Michele Ferrari, has signed a deal to race for the Ceramica Flaminia continental team for the 2008 season.
The Italian veteran missed most of the 2007 season but has signed a one-year contract that will see him racing in Italian events.
The 36-year-old Simeoni, who served a racing ban for admitting to using performance-enhancing products, may be best known for testifying that Ferrari prescribed him EPO and human growth hormones in 1996-97 when he was a member of the Carrera and Asics teams.
Simeoni also butted heads with seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong during the 2004 Tour when he tried to escape in Stage 18, only to have the yellow jersey follow him and prompt the rest of the peloton to start chasing down the breakaway. Simeoni later dropped out of the break to give the other riders a chance with Armstrong shadowing his move.
Simeoni also angrily attacked in the final stage into Paris, in part to try to spoil Armstrong’s victory lap on the Champs-Elysées.
Bennati’s season finished
Italian Daniele Bennati put a premature end to his 2007 season due to a micro-fracture in his right wrist, his Lampre-Fondital team has announced.
Doctors said the injury was probably caused in a crash early in the Vuelta a España and said he should immobilize his fingers for at least 20 days to give the bones time to heal.
Bennati, 27, was one of the top favorites for Sunday’s Paris-Tours, where he finished second in 2005. The Tuscan is coming off his most successful season, winning two stages at the Tour de France and three stages at the Vuelta a España, including the final stage in both grand tours.
Five new to Bouygues
Five new faces will join the French outfit Bouygues Telecom for the 2008 season. Perrig Quemeneur joins Damien Gaudin, Sébastien Turgot and a pair of Russians with Evgeny Sokolov Yuri Trofimov.
Five riders will leave the team, including Didier Rous, Pierre Drancourt, Andy Flickinger, Yoann Le Boulanger and Laurent Brochard.