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Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) had even more reason to smile after the stage, having taken the race leader's jersey.
Australian thrown back on stage by puncture
Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) lost vital time to his yellow jersey rivals on stage three of the Tour de France but remained upbeat at the finish, well aware that the race was far from over.
The Australian finished 2.25 down on stage winner Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) but lost time to Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Lance Armstrong (Radioshack), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
However, he finished in the company of Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank), meaning he now sits 28th overall, three minutes down on the yellow jersey of Fabian Cancellara.
The Australian punctured in the final 30 kilometres of the stage and although teammate Mark Renshaw was on hand to offer him a wheel, the subsequent change meant that Rogers was forced to chase back the favourites. He briefly made it across but lost contact on the last section of pave as the field split again before the finish in Arenberg.
“That’s life. You’ve got to be pretty lucky not to puncture and it just sucked. I was there just behind the first few riders but that’s it,” he told Cyclingnews as he rolled towards the team bus.
“I got a wheel off Renshaw but the change took a minute and once you lose contact it’s hard to come back. I got back to Alberto and Lance.”
“It’s just a lottery. It’s like going to the casino and throwing a bunch of money on a number. You’ve got no control over things.”
Rogers came into the Tour with his best form in years, winning the Amgen Tour of California and the Ruta del Sol.
Team director Allan Peiper was relieved that the stage was over and drew on the positive aspects of the result. “It’s very early days,” he told Cyclingnews. We’ve just had the first real test of the Tour, but being a little bit behind means Michael won’t be the first person to watch in the mountains. That means he could escape in a group and we’re confident he can finish highly.”