World champ riding for injured mate

Rogers in action for Crake tonight

By Gerard Walsh, Editor, Goulburn Post Newspaper

Tour de France top 10 finisher Michael Rogers will be racing at this Friday night's Goulburn Cycle Club track meet to help raise funds for fellow rider and Canberran Paul Crake. Crake - a top road rider in his own right - suffered severe spinal injuries during a race in New Zealand last month.

Triple world time trial champion Rogers will be joined on Friday by a host track riders from the Southern Highlands, Goulburn and Canberra who are all supporting the Crake appeal. It will be the first time since the Sydney Olympics Rogers will have ridden a fixed gear track machine. He admitted to the Goulburn Post he hasn't got a track bike but: "it will be no trouble getting one".

"I've never actually ridden the track at Goulburn, but I've been past there a few times and have noticed that it is pretty flat and open track," he said. "Hopefully, it will be a good roll up on Friday night because it's for a most worthy cause. It's terrible what happened to Paul and this is the least I can do to help."

Goulburn Cycle Club spokesman Anthony Cole said local sporting fans this Friday night will have a chance to witness first hand one of world cycling's best athletes.

"Mick's been kind enough to devote his time to a good cause on Friday night and it will be great if local residents can support him and the cycling fraternity in their endeavours to raise funds for Paul Crake," he said. "It will be one Mick's last public appearances before he returns to Europe to commence preparations for the 2007 Tour de France in which he will be a leading contender."

Crake, 30, was one of five cyclists blown off the road by a powerful wind gust during the eighth stage of the Tour of Southland on November 11.

He sustained minor fractures of the C1 and C2 cervical vertebrae, a fracture of the T5 thoracic vertebrae and dislocations through to T7. Both lungs were also punctured as a result of rib fractures. Currently at Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch, he said he would be home in Australia for Christmas and will be admitted to a spinal care unit in Australia to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery.

Crake was a member of the Australian team at the 2004 Road World Championships in Italy, was third in the road race at last year's Australian Open Road Championships and this year placed second on the fourth stage of the nation's most prestigious stage race, the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under.

This season he has raced as a professional in Italy with the Naturina Sapore di Mare team.

He switched from stair-climbing to cycling in 2002. As a stair-climber he notched up five straight victories in the annual sprint up the 86 flights of stairs (1576 stairs) to the top of New York's Empire State Building between 1999 and 2003 and still holds the record for the fastest ascent of 9mins 33secs.

Crake is spending up to seven hours a day in a wheelchair and working twice a day on strength and mobility exercises with the physiotherapists in the gym.

Tonight's action starts at 7pm at Seiffert Oval, Faithfull Street, Goulburn.

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