By Kirsten Robbins in Branson, Missouri
After a year marred with injury and illness Michael Rogers, a former triple world champion racing for Team Columbia, placed second in stage three time trial at the Tour of Missouri. This result combined with his double top ten at the Beijing Olympic Games shows that he may be back in the running for a fourth world title in the upcoming world championships. The event will be held later this month in his hometown of Varese, Italy.
"One of the reasons that I came to this race was for the time trial because I felt that it would be good preparations for the world championships in a month," said the Australian in a press conference immediately following the stage. "I think it was one of the toughest time trials I've done, course wise."
A full year has come and gone since the then T-Mobile squad appointed Rogers as their leader for the 2007 Tour de France. What might have been his yellow jersey debut was cut short when he crashed in stage 8 on the Cormet de Roseland descent. The accident happened while he was in a decisive breakaway as the virtual leader on the road.
"The last year hasn't been the best for me," admitted Rogers. "I had a very good chance to take the yellow jersey that day and so that crash was a big blow to my morale."
Rogers re-signed with the High Road-turned Columbia team, however his bad-luck continued into the 2008 year when he contracted mononucleosis. His hopes for a healthy return to the peloton was delayed a second time, and he was bed ridden for most of the early season. "When you think about it, it's been almost one year that I didn't race and at this level of competition it's hard to get back on to do well in the time trial."
"I think I've got a lot of steps to make to try to get back into the yellow jersey," he continued regarding the time between his return to the peloton at the Dauphiné Libéré held in mid-June and the up coming world time trial championship event.
"Coming back to the Olympics with a sixth in the road race and eighth in the time trial was a good result for me. It shows that I'm certainly getting back to were I was. It hasn't been an easy road and it's been very slow."