By Hedwig Kröner in Courchevel
On Tuesday, July 12, Quickstep's Michael Rogers went into the Alps in 37th position on general classification, 6'29 behind the race leader. But the 'Dodger' certainly had something in mind and an objective to go for before the stage to Courchevel. "Today's the first real hard stage, with two long and steep climbs so it will be the first day where the GC really opens up," he told Cyclingnews at the start in Grenoble. "I'd like to finish with the front guys as I've climbed well the last couple of days. But I've been pretty much waiting until this stage so it's the first day where I can move up on the GC I think."
Rogers was looking forward to this part of the race as he'd reconnoitred the course in training beforehand. "Between the top of the first climb and the foot of the second it's a long way," he said. "I've done it in training a few times and there's always been quite a strong headwind in the valley so I don't know what it's going to be like today."
The day went well for the world time trial champion, who predicted an early breakaway: "There's bound to be someone who's going to try [on the first climb]. I don't know how far they'll get but we'll see." Finally, all early attacks were caught by a dominating Discovery squad, and Rogers hit the final climb to Courchevel within the main bunch.
"I'd like to get to Paris in the top ten, certainly," he replied when we asked him about his overall goals at this year's Tour de France. "Unfortunately, I lost a bit of time in the team time trial. But that was expected, so I hope to make some time up in the next couple of stages. They're pretty hard."
He was right, and when Lance Armstrong took his favourite jersey the end of the day, the high tempo he imposed on the peloton was sure to leave plenty behind, including Rogers. But the Australian stayed true to his objective and moved up on GC to finish 25th - even if he was fined 50 Swiss Francs and added 20 seconds for staying behind a team car for too long today.