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Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) makes his 2014 racing debut
Team owner backs Australian for Tour de France team
Tinkoff-Saxo team owner Oleg Tinkov has welcomed Michael Rogers back to the team with open arms after no further action was taken in the Australian’s Clenbuterol case from last year's Japan Cup. Rogers was provisionally suspended last December but was cleared by the authorities after providing them with a plausible explanation relating to contaminated meat in China.
The 34-year-old returned to racing on Sunday at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and although he failed to finish he did a spell on the front and helped Roman Kreuziger to a top ten place.
Tinkov spoke to Cyclingnews prior to the race and backed Rogers to make Alberto Contador's Tour de France team.
"Of course I'm happy that he's back because he's a great helper for Roman today in the race and will be for Alberto Contador in the Tour de France. He's a powerful missile," Tinkov told Cyclingnews.
"We'll see [about the Tour], normally yes but it depends. If he abandons all the races before the Tour de France then he won't do it," Tinkov joked.
Rogers also spoke to Cyclingnews on the morning of Liege and recounted the moment he found out about his positive test – he was at a party for one of his daughters. Tinkov added that he and team had given Rogers their full support through out.
"He called me when he was cleared, I said congratulations but from the very beginning I had faith in him and I believed him. I know there are many athletes from other sports having this issue in China, so he's not the only one, but we welcome the end of this story."
Tinkov was at the Ardennes for the first time and planned to ride the last sections of the course himself. The Cyclingnews columnist plans on attending all of the Giro d'Italia next month, with the plan to ride every day ahead of the race.
"I'm going to do my three hours on the course now with all the famous climbs. This is my first time in the Ardennes. I'll try and do three weeks there but in the first week it's a corporate event so my guys come from my bank Tinkoff Credit System so maybe it'll be more about whisky than the bike."