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Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) in the prologue
Australian GC contender finishes 14th
Michael Rogers (Team HTC-Columbia) began his Tour de France with a credible performance in the prologue in Rotterdam, on Saturday. The Australian finished 14th, 35 seconds down on winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) but told Cyclingnews that he was pleased with his performance.
"It wasn't too bad," Rogers said. "I didn't exactly have dry roads so I lost a bit of time on the corners but I'm happy with the ride. It's the start of a long road and it wasn't a bad start."
Rogers comes into the Tour de France a real contender for the top-ten after possibly the best start to his season of his career. The 30-year-old Australian won his first stage race since 2003 at the Ruta de Sol in February and followed that up with second at Critérium International and the overall at the Amgen Tour of California. Rogers also quit the Tour de Suisse mid-way through the race in order to fine-tune his engine for the Tour.
"Prologues aren't my forte and I think I can be pretty happy with it," he added.
Before the prologue Team HTC-Columbia hedged their bets, with time trial specialist Tony Martin setting off amongst the early riders in a move to avoid the rain. Rogers, on the other hand, was saved for a later send off sandwiched between the majority of the yellow jersey contenders.
"The team set Tony off early because of the weather conditions and it paid off well. Unfortunately I couldn't go a little bit early and we had to put one of our top riders in the last few. A lot of guys had worse conditions that I did," he said.
While Rogers lost out to the likes of Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), he did put time into all his other rivals for the yellow jersey. While seconds could count for little once the race reaches Paris, an early blow in the time trial could give the Australian a vital psychological edge. However he played down any such talk as he warmed-down on the rollers.
"A second here, five seconds there doesn't change anything. Of course you try and gain as much time as possible but whether I finished tenth or fifth or fifteenth it doesn't change anything."