Aiming for number three

Having won the world time trial title in 2003 and 2004, Michael Rogers is in the unique position of...

An interview with Mick Rogers, September 22, 2005

Having won the world time trial title in 2003 and 2004, Michael Rogers is in the unique position of potentially becoming the first person to take three consecutive TT gold medals when he contests the elite men’s race on Thursday afternoon. Rogers spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes prior to the event, talking confidently about his chances for the time trial and also discussing his predictions for the road race. He says that the final 180 degree turn on Sunday favours Australian team-mate Robbie McEwen, but adds a word of caution.

Rogers has shown mixed form this season, going close to what would have been a superb victory in the Tour of Switzerland and also riding strongly in other events such as the Tour du Pays Basques. However, his bid to achieve a high GC placing in the Tour de France came to naught, meaning the 25 year old had to come back and rebuild both his form and his morale after the disappointment of July. To his credit he has done just that, finishing fourth and fifth on stages of the recent Tour of Britain and placing seventh overall.

“I am not so convinced that it is going to be a sprint finish,” he states. “It's a very, very long race; 270 kilometres or something, and sprinters can get tired and thus bring guys like Bettini into the equation. It starts to change things a little bit. But saying that, you never know and especially with teams now only having nine riders each. Who is going to chase? Nine riders isn't much, especially with a couple of those expected to lead it out for the sprint. So there aren't really that many riders to play the domestique role. I think that could change the outcome of the race a little as well.”

Cyclingnews: What have you been up to lately?

Michael Rogers: My form has been pretty good since the Tour of Britain, I think I've come a long way since then. I went there to try and find some condition for this race and I am quite happy with the way my form has come on since then. I certainly feel I am on par with last year, so I'd be happy to repeat that performance.

CN: What has your schedule been like since the Tour of Britain?

MR: I did Paris-Brussels and Fourmies in France. Other than that, I've basically been training at home on the time trial bike. My preparation is much the same as last year, although not living close to this course I wasn't able to preview it like last year. But I think I was able to do a good deal of work at home.

CN: Have you ridden the course?

MR: Yes, I saw it this morning. It's quite a deceiving course, really - all the reports were saying it's pretty much flat, but that isn't the case. It's relatively up and down the whole way and on narrow roads. But I like it, I think it is a good circuit and it's better for me the way it is than being a completely flat time trial.

CN: How does it compare to last year's profile?

MR: Well, there's no real climbs like last year - the one three or four kilometres after the start was relatively hard and while they are quite steep here, they are relatively short.

CN: It is exposed in some places - do you think the wind could be a factor?

MR: I have no idea. This morning I didn't really get a chance to see that as the wind wasn't really up.

CN: Having ridden the course, who do you think might be up there, besides yourself?

MR: I can only go on rumours of form, I'm not very good at predicting podiums. I just know that I will have to be on top of it, that's all. I think that Julich is in good shape, Cancellara is in good shape and there's bound to be a few other guys on the day…we all have good days. But in regards to predicting podiums, I'm no good at that (laughs)...but I am pretty happy with my form!

CN: After the time trial, there is the road race. What's the plan there - is it all for Robbie?

MR: Well, I don't think so, necessarily. Alan Davis is in good shape and so too Baden Cooke. That said, with that corner being so close to the finish, Robbie has a good chance. But I am not so convinced that it is going to be a sprint finish. It is a very, very long race, 270 kilometres or something and sprinters can get tired and thus bring guys like Bettini into the equation. It starts to change things a little bit. But saying that, you never know and especially with teams now only having nine riders each. Who is going to chase? Nine riders isn't much, especially with a couple of those expected to lead it out for the sprint. So there aren't really that many riders to play the domestique role, so I think that could change the outcome of the race a little as well.

CN: Have you seen that course?

MR: No, I haven't.

CN: What are your ambitions going into it - is it something that could suit you, do you think?

MR: No, I am coming here to do the time trial and hopefully to play a good role in the road race, being somebody who can do some good work towards the end. But as regards sprinting, it is not really my passion (laughs).

CN: Sure, and the course is not really tough enough to favour you..

MR: Yeah, it's not really hard enough for me. But it's a long one, and who knows?

CN: Should you win the time trial, it'll be the third year in a row, something which has never been done before. That's a nice little target to go for as well…

MR: Certainly. I'll be the first person in history to win three and certainly something that I've been thinking about the last couple of months, or basically the whole year. So I would be honoured to have that title. I just hope it all goes well on Thursday.

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