Now you know why they call Stuart O’Grady the Fighting Freckle. The popular Aussie rider was accused of assault on his chauffeur driver. Yeah, you don’t mess with a classics hardman who once won Paris-Roubaix.
Twisted Spoke notes that the altercation occurred after the driver picked O’Grady up from a winery. Immediately, we recalled O’Grady’s thrilling mis-adventure with teammate Andy Schleck at the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, otherwise known as their last ride with Saxo Bank.
Team manager Bjarne Riis kicked Shleck and O’Grady out of the race for staying out late drinking. It was a bit of public humiliation by Riis who was furious with the Brothers Schleck for stealing half his team — including O’Grady –and taking it to Luxembourg.
We suspect that while O’Grady is a true professional, he’s also a good mate and not adverse to having an extra drink or two — whether that’s a bar in Spain or a winery in Australia.
GreenEdge jumped quickly to his defense. “Stuey is the victim here,” a GreenEdge source told the newspaper. “We find the timing of this to be quite strange. He’s a family man and a proud local. He had witnesses and he’s here to race.”
We don’t know what being a family man has to do with assault or how being a proud local factors into the situation. It could also be the case that the driver was a jerk and looking to get some attention. Either way, it’s not a good reflection on O’Grady and the last thing GreenEdge wants just days from their first race and home country launch at the Tour Down Under.
This sure sounds like the Fighting Freckle was in a fighting mood.