When Australia's Michael Rogers left the start house at Hampton Court for the 2012 Olympic Games men's individual time trial on Wednesday, nine riders were set to follow.
The 32-year-old took his place in the hot seat, having ridden at an average speed of almost 50km/h over the undulating 44 kilometre out-and-back course. Rogers had bumped Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain) from top place at the second time check at 18.4km, and again at the third setting the time to beat for the heavy-hitters than followed.
"I wanted to start quite aggressively," Rogers, a three-time world champion in the discipline, explained after the race. "I'm really happy with the way I rode. I really got everything out of myself as everybody saw at the end."
He would finish in sixth place in a time of 0:52:51.39, 0:02:11.85 behind the winning time of Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins.
Rogers' season has been largely built around supporting Wiggins. Sky's general classification line-up of time triallists all riding tempo in support of one man in his bid for Tour de France glory the ultimate crescendo. There had been a brief sidebar where Rogers took the overall prize at Bayern Rundfahrt but individual opportunities have been few and far between since he began his season in Australia in January.
"Yes, it's a bit of a different approach," he admitted of the mental switch required for the chrono. "We talked the course through last night with Matt White, the Australian director of cycling, and then it kind of dawned on me. I was able to make the click in my mind that conversion into racing for myself."
London was Rogers' fourth Olympic Games, just as it was for Australian teammate Cadel Evans. Only Stuart O'Grady has ridden at more Olympics, with London his sixth appearance. With opportunities to ride for the national team at a premium, the Olympic Games is an experience that hasn't lost any of its luster for Rogers.
"We're quite different from most Olympic sports, with people all over the place riding for professional teams and out of national teams. I still take a lot of pride in taking the Australian jersey on. It comes to a close of my fourth Olympics and today was an emotional a ride as it was in Sydney ."
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