Rogers looking to upset GreenEdge assault on Australian Championships

Michael Rogers

Michael Rogers (Image credit: Team Sky)

If there's one rider, not in GreenEdge colours, who's flying under the radar for Sunday's Australian elite men's road race championship it's Sky's Michael Rogers.

Several riders, in terrific form themselves, who spoke to Cyclingnews in the lead up to the 163.2-kilometre race pointed to Rogers as a potential danger man. Rogers, 32, will be racing competitively for the first time in 2012 at the 16-lap race and is the first to acknowledge that fact.

"It feels like the year's gone by pretty quickly and no one's mentioned me too much and it doesn't really worry me," he told Cyclingnews. Rogers has been back in Australia since mid-November with his only racing coming via the notoriously competitive Canberra club scene.

"I've always got a really good group in Canberra for training with Michael Matthews and Mat Hayman, the GreenEdge boys where there for a while so it's been good," Rogers said before adding that the weekly crit racing gives him "intensity for the week without even training."

Rogers finished as runner-up at the 2009 event, following a huge upset by Drapac-Porsche rider Peter McDonald. The race had become a battle of three in the final two kilometres after Columbia-Highroad's Adam Hansen bridged the gap to the pair out front - and some say this caused some confusion between Rogers and his teammate, but regardless the favoured man didn't win and was just another example that anything can happen on the Buninyong course.

According to Rogers though, there is one expected element. "GreenEdge will use their advantage and that's their numbers, put people in the break and then force us to chase. They're not going to fool many people with that.

"Realistically there are only two or three of them that can win the race," he said. "All it takes is one guy who is super in the last two laps who can take them to bits. Anything could happen out there. I'm going to go in with an open mind and be prepared for anything. You can plan as much as you like." And Rogers knows.

Time to clock on, again

Rogers' other focus this week is the elite men's time trial on Tuesday where he'll line up in the best field ever seen at the championships contest the punishing discipline, with Jack Bobridge, Cameron (a two-time winner) and Travis Meyer, Richie Porte as well as current under 23 world champion Luke Durbridge and Copenhagen under 23 bronze medallist Michael Hepburn.

"There's a fair bit of depth there," Rogers said of the field for the 38.2-kilometre race against the clock. "Six years ago, there was just a couple of guys in it. Especially with this year being an Olympic year, everyone's that little bit extra motivated."

And Rogers is one them with the three-time time trial world champion that he became "really bored" with the event following his wins in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and so relinquished his focus to look towards other elements of his racing

"Winning the first Worlds was probably the easiest out of all of them," he said to Cyclingnews. "It just seemed to get harder and harder. If you make a mistake in a road race you can usually correct it. Obviously not in the last 200 metres, and if you miss the break you expend a lot more energy. If you make a mistake in a time trial, you can't really correct an hour's work, and it's such a violent effort. It sucks."

Almost remarkably considering his success on the world stage, Rogers has only been crowned as Australian National Champion in the event once, in 2008. In 2002 he took home the silver medal after being pipped by Nathan O'Neill.

"I rate the young guys just as highly as anyone," he said of the chances of the opposition - with all younger than him.

Rogers actually had to think for a bit for a while when asked when he last raced a time trial of any decent length, ruling out the Tour of Britain, before deducing that it was at Paris-Nice last March and the 2010 world championships before that.

"There's a little bit of a hunger in my belly now to ride well in the time trials again so it's something that I'll be working pretty hard on this year," Rogers said. "I still think I've got it there."

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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.


Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.