Triple world time trial champion, Michael Rogers (Australia), says he may take a year out from the event to regain his 'hunger' after finishing eighth at the 2006 UCI road cycling World Championships in Salzburg, Austria.
Rogers has been time trial World Champion since 2003 and, as per tradition, was the last rider to leave the starting gate for the 50.83 kilometre 'race of truth'. By the first time check at 10 kilometres he was 26 seconds down on eventual winner and the man who started before him, Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland. Cancellara, who was third last year, stopped the clock at 1:00:11.75, while Rogers was 2'31.86 slower.
"My plan was to go out relatively controlled and it would have been ideal not to lose that amount of time (in the first ten kilometres) but at the end of the day I didn't have the top end (speed) I've had for the last couple of years," Rogers said adding with a wry laugh. "I tried to peg it back but lost more - it was a hard day."
Rogers, who finished tenth overall in this year's Tour de France after working for T-Mobile's podium finisher Andreas Klöden, admitted he felt the pressure coming into today's event. "I didn't have the best day but I went the hardest and the best I could, it was just the other guys were stronger," he said. "I'm a little bit disappointed but I can't be too ashamed of myself...life goes on.
"I had quite a good rest after the Tour and my condition was good leading into here but I think I'm just going to take a year out next year from the time trial and get some real hunger back," explained Rogers who after fourth place in the event in Athens has Beijing Olympic gold as his goal. "Maybe I took it for a little bit for granted, the whole thing, and maybe if I take a year out now (I can) get my motivation back for the next year."
Cycling Australia professional rider co-ordinator, Neil Stephens, believes Rogers' Tour de France effort might have had more of an impact that the 26 year old Canberra cyclist was willing to admit. "We're a little bit disappointed but I suppose we knew that Michael had had a really solid Tour de France where he was obliged to help his team leader (Klöden)," said Stephens. "That meant he went a bit deeper than he has in other years.
"Having said that his preparation was pretty optimal coming up to World's but unfortunately you don't know how it's going to fall into place until race day," Stephens said. "Although he wasn't bad - he wasn't in super shape which you had to be to be on the podium."
Stephens said during the ride they were forced to set new goals when they realised Cancellara was putting in a superb effort.
"We didn't get many time checks on the radio but we had Dave (Dr Dave Martin) from the Australian Institute of Sport in the car and he gave us some really great info about projected average speeds," said Stephens. "When we came through the second interval I knew (Rogers) was not up for the win but we thought the podium might be a chance - unfortunately that wasn't to be."
Australia's only other starter was Queenslander Ben Day, 27, who finished 13th at last year's World Championships and was the silver medallist in the time trial at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Today he finished 21st in 1:04:05.17, almost four minutes slower than Cancellara.
"I didn't really know what to expect," said Day. "I peaked for Commonwealth Games in March and now it's the end of September and I'm feeling pretty tired and ready for a break.
"It was really interesting because the course we all knew was very hard but the hardest parts were in the first ten kilometres so to choose the pacing strategy correctly... was a fine line to find what you needed," Day explained. "I didn't feel super and didn't feel bad either but the guys in the front were absolutely super."