O'Grady best in velodrome

O'Grady best in velodrome
By Eurosport

15/04/2007 at 23:08Updated

Former track star Stuart O'Grady claimed the biggest road victory of his career on Roubaix's velodrome becoming the first Australian to win the Paris-Roubaix classic.

The former Olympic and world champion on the track stunned the race favourites, counter-attacking with 24 kilometres left to ride after his chase group caught race-leading duo Kevin Van Impe and David Kopp.

The 33-year-old O'Grady then took a solo victory on the last of the 28 cobbled sectors in the 259-kilometre long Hell of the North, barely able to withhold his emotions as he entered the velodrome and got off of his bike after crossing the line in victory.

Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) beat former Tour of Flanders victor Steffen Wesemann for second-place in a final sprint, as race favourite and 2005 winner Tom Boonen was relegated to sixth at 50 seconds off pace.

O'Grady, winner of two Tour de France stages in the past, outshone the specialists to score by far his greatest victory on the road.

"Track is where I was born and since this finishes on a cycling track, I had told myself, why not?" said O'Grady, winner of Olympic medals on track in Barcelona, Atlanta and Athens.

But Roubaix will probably rank even higher as the most unexpected and the best deserved of his 46 professional victories on the road.

"It's a dream and I can hardly believe it. This is the first race I ever saw on a video back home years and years ago," said O'Grady, who suffered a bad crash and injury last season.

Last year's winner Fabian Cancellara was team favourite but O'Grady, who shares rooms with the Swiss in races, took control when his room mate made it clear he did not feel well.

"I spoke to Fabian quickly and he said he was not feeling a 100 percent. I saw that Wesemann was going pretty strong and after that there was no holding back."

After Cancellara and the retiring Danish CSC rider Lars Michaelsen crossed the line together in the second chase group, the two men embraced their victorious team-mate in the finish area and Michaelsen broke into tears.