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Michael Rogers

Mick Rogers (HTC-Columbia)

On the verge of breaking

By:
Michael Rogers
Published:
July 23, 2010, 3:17 BST,
Updated:
July 23, 2010, 4:25 BST

Tired Rogers talks about the impact of a long Tour

From a rider’s perspective, in the Tour de France’s first two weeks everyone has fresh legs and has the ability to fight for position in the bunch. But now, in the third week, whether you like it or not, you just default to your current physical level. In the first week accelerating out of corners when you go through small towns and villages was easy, but now it’s almost impossible to contemplate.

Today we came off the descent from Soulor and went through a town with a sharp right hand turn and I nearly broke. It’s funny, on the climbs you also find yourself defaulting in a similar way. For the last few days I’ve been dropped on the climb with the same group of guys.

But now the mountains are over and I think 99 percent of the bunch is happy to see the end of them.

Tomorrow will be a big day for us with the possibility of a sprint. We will work pretty hard at that. I presume Lampre will do the same as they have the same goals and they’re still chasing the green jersey.

The time trial on Saturday will be interesting. Time trials in the third week of a Grand Tour are completely different to any other time trials. It doesn’t matter if you’re a specialist or not. The favourite for the TT at this point just comes down to whether you’ve still got the energy.

When I was UCI World Time Trial Champion a few years back I was always considered one of the favourites for the time trials in the Tour, but I remember vividly the 2005 time trial where I almost struggled to finish it. So Saturday will come down to the general classification riders who are fighting for overall and of course time trial specialists who still have something left. Everyone else will just be worried about getting to the finish.

Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) in the prologue
Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) during the prologue, all those weeks ago.

Finally, I’m pretty happy that race organiser ASO decided to make the final stage shorter this year. It’s only 102km or so, which is great. The final stage is more of a traditional parade anyway until you reach the Champs-Élysées, so it doesn’t really matter what happens before you reach the circuits.

The end result is likely to be the same anyway. When we hit the circuits, the race really starts and it will be pretty exciting as usual.

Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) at the finish at Morzine-Avoriaz

Letting the breaks go

By:
Michael Rogers
Published:
July 17, 2010, 2:14 BST,
Updated:
July 17, 2010, 3:17 BST

Overall contenders rest before the Pyrenees

With the gaps in the GC up pretty high, the biggest challenge is that a lot of teams are now looking to get into the breakaways because there is more chance for the overall contenders' teams to let breaks go.

This makes for pretty hard racing at the beginning, waiting for a break to establish that teams are happy with. Today we rode really hard for the first hour and a half. I think we averaged over 49km/h in the first hour of racing and that included 13km of climbing, so it was pretty tough.

When big breaks go there is always a chance that someone makes it into the break that could be dangerous on GC if it gets too far up the road. Today Astana was really smart to put Vino in the escape. It meant that the pressure was on Saxo to ride pretty hard all day to keep the gap low. They had to use a lot of valuable energy that they'll really miss in the Pyrenees.

Stages like today don't really look all that hard on paper but they're the ones that really stop the recovery process. You have to spend a lot of energy to stay in the bunch and it's really hard to recover from that.

Only the fittest will survive and get through to the Pyrenees in reasonable shape. The lighter-framed guys will do a little better because they have to expend less energy than the sprinters or the guys who ride the flats.

Grabschi had a tough day today. He crashed pretty hard when the bunch was in full flight; losing a minute at that time makes it impossible to bridge. He chased for a long time and paid the price. Especially after yesterday when he rode so long on the front. But Grabschi's a tank. He'll keep plodding away and he'll come back I'm sure.

I'm going alright. I'm tired today. I certainly hope I can keep it together and find a stage when I can go in the break in the Pyrenees. Everyone suffered from the heat again today. It's been relentless and it doesn't look like it's going to cool down at all in the Pyrenees but we can always hope.

Tomorrow's stage could be a sprint. It has a hard little climb in it near the finish and I have bad memories of it as I think it's the same course we raced in 2005.

Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) at the finish at Morzine-Avoriaz

Quietly confident approaching the Pyrenees

By:
Michael Rogers
Published:
July 12, 2010, 20:20 BST,
Updated:
July 12, 2010, 21:23 BST

Cavendish stage wins "huge relief"

Well, we're now at the first rest day. It hasn't been the hardest first week of a Tour de France that I've done, but I think it was definitely the most challenging mentally. Starting in the Netherlands and then into the cobbled stage made for a pretty tough and nervous start.

Cav's first win on Thursday was a huge relief for Cav and the team. He hasn't had an ideal year in the lead-up to the Tour and he obviously had a huge amount of pressure on him from the media, the team and probably himself. If you really look at it, last year was an amazing year for Cav. With all his results, we all start thinking that he’s been around for a long time, but really this is only his fourth year as a professional.

Winning 10 Grand Tour stages and races like Milan-San Remo is extremely rare for a rider. Actually, most riders really only have an amazing ride like Cav did at Milan-San Remo about once a year, but he went on to win some amazing races last year and I think it sort of became expected that he would do that every year. Trying to repeat a season that like is almost impossible to achieve.

All that pressure came out after the win. The team did a great job getting him to the line right from the start of the stage with Kosta [Kanstantsin Siutsou - ed.] riding all day on the front and Bernie [Bernhard Eisel - ed.] and Mark [Renshaw] doing what they do best in the closing kilometers. All the pressure came out for Cav at the end of the stage. It was a great day for him and the team. After that, I think the second win came pretty easily.

With regards to the mountains, it’s been tough mostly because of the heat. The first mountain stage was a lot harder than I expected. I really struggled on that stage with the heat. Things turned around with the slightly cooler conditions yesterday and I felt much better. I just couldn't follow in the last couple of kilometers but I'm happy not to have lost too much time.

I'm quietly confident coming into the Pyrenees that I can do well in what I think will be a tough second week of the Tour.

We're all pretty happy to have had a rest day today and now we're looking forward to getting back into it.

Michael Rogers (HTC - Columbia) up and ready to get on the road.

Turning the Tour on its head

By:
Michael Rogers
Published:
July 06, 2010, 10:03 BST,
Updated:
July 06, 2010, 3:11 BST

Early days are full of crashes and nerves

These early days in the Tour this year are underrated. They are not the hardest but certainly they are the days that stay in your legs and can put you on the back foot before the mountains.

The amount of accelerations alone just to maintain position is the hardest thing. I think you have about 700 accelerations in a stage like today and that is something you can't really replicate in training. The only way to get ready for stages like this is to have racing in your legs.

I got through pretty well today and I was lucky not to crash. There were guys going down to the left, to the right and in front of me but somehow I got through. I just tried to stay calm and I didn't try to fight too much for position.

I was behind the big crash and got back to the yellow jersey group with about 30km to go. I think it was about six or seven kilometres of chasing. I'm not really sure how the crash happened but there must have been oil on the road or something. Guys were going in a straight line and just falling over. I’ve been a pro for 10 years and never seen anything like it!

Tomorrow will be nervous again. Most of the crashes are happening in the front with guys fighting for position so the decision now is whether to try fight for position into the cobbles or just hang back a bit and try go into the cobbles about 50 or so riders back.

For sure it's going to be interesting. We'll probably see the race turn on its side again I'd say.

Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) in the prologue

Time for the patience game

By:
Michael Rogers
Published:
July 03, 2010, 23:33 BST,
Updated:
July 04, 2010, 0:34 BST

Following prologue, Rogers seeks to conserve precious energy

So, the Tour de France has started and everyone is happy that everything is finally underway. Sitting around and waiting in our rooms doing nothing is pretty nerve-racking and we all have big questions about ourselves and how we're going to pull up for the prologue.

Today I certainly felt that the first three or four minutes were such a violent effort. The legs got a bit of a shock and the lungs were burning, but I got it together in the second half. I think it will take me a few days to really get on top of it.

I'm pretty excited by the weeks ahead. I feel that my form is on par with other years. The difference this year is that I'm mentally more relaxed. I've done the best I could preparation-wise to get the best out of myself. I have just come off three weeks at altitude to get to the best condition possible.

It was great to see Tony [Martin] do so well today. The team made a wise decision to put our strongest rider off early after studying the weather pattern and we took the risk out of it a little bit by spreading our strongest time trial riders out throughout the field with Tony, Maxime and myself instead of having all three ride in the final part of the race. So it worked out well.

We have some nervous stages coming up. Tomorrow is the sprinters' chance to stamp their authority on the race. Anything could happen with the wind and we'll have to see the wind direction in the morning but it will for sure be quite a nervous race. I'm sure Saxo Bank will control the race early and we'll see the sprinters' teams come to the front toward the end to get their sprinters in position.

So anyway, we're happy to get this show on the road. For GC riders, now starts the patience game. The game of trying not to lose any time and to conserve as much energy as possible. Something could happen on stage 7 or 8 with the first mountain stages but overall the race will be won or lost in the Pyrenees.

Author
Michael Rogers

Michael Rogers turned pro in 2001 in the legendary Mapei colours, and quickly established himself as one of the peloton's strongmen. He won three consecutive World Time Trial Championships between 2003 and 2005, and this prowess against the watch allied to his solid climbing made him as a perennial stage race contender. He has top ten finishes in both the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia to his name, as well the general classification in the Tour of Germany, Tour of Belgium and Tour Down Under.

A crash at the 2007 Tour de France followed by a bout of mononucleosis temporarily stunted his progress but only strengthened his resolve, and the Australian has since returned to the front of the peloton with some hugely impressive displays. A leader at HTC-Columbia, Rogers took a fine win at the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, and you can follow his assault on Tour glory here on cyclingnews.com