HTC-Columbia's Michael Rogers hopeful ahead of Tour de France
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

HTC-Columbia's Michael Rogers hopeful ahead of Tour de France

by Jered Gruber at 11:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Aiming for Top Five overall in Paris

It has only been two weeks since Michael Rogers took the first ever non-American win at the Tour of California. Rogers wasted no time following his victory and got back to training almost immediately for his primary goal of 2010: the Tour de France. Rogers went first to Livigno, Switzerland for a training block at altitude. After that, he headed southwest to the warmer climate and still plenty high altitude of southern Spain's, Sierra Nevada. Up next for Rogers will be the Tour de Suisse, which starts next Saturday in Lugano.

Rogers has had a brilliant start to his 2010 season, arguably his best ever. However, he is not looking to add any results to his palmares in Switzerland: "I'm going to use the race just to get ready for the Tour. I've got no wants or desires to be up there in the results. I'm going to use it as a sort of training race really."

Rogers attributes much of his success in 2010 to the hard look he took at his last few years of racing at the end of the 2009 season.

"If I look back at the last couple of years of my career, I wasn't really happy with the way things had gone. I knew I had to make a lot of changes if I wanted to reach my full potential. I started by just looking at my training and going back to my old coach from when I first turned pro, Aldo Sassi."

The change in Rogers' training was dramatic. Sassi cut the Canberra-native rider's volume and upped the intensity dramatically. Rogers has no doubts about the results of his hard work.

"I think it has made a big difference. I started concentrating on making my hard days like a race really. I suppose in the last five or six years, I haven't trained the way that I should have. I've done a lot of endurance type training and not enough top end, very high intensity work."

He's not joking when he says he's been working hard: "This year, I've trained behind the motorbike pretty much everyday. I do every ride behind the bike, all day."

The hard work the three-time World Champion has done has manifested itself in a wave of solid results including overall wins at the Ruta del Sol and the Tour of California. His list of close calls is even more impressive with a 2nd overall at the Criterium International, 3rd at the Tour de Romandie, 3rd at the Montepaschi Strade Bianche, and 6th at Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Tour de Romandie would seem to be a thorn in Rogers' side, considering it was the last race Alejandro Valverde did before his Italian ban was expanded to a worldwide suspension. Valverde was the driving force in the late move that put just enough time into Rogers to swipe his leader's jersey on the final stage in Sion.

Rogers is matter of fact about the situation and doesn't seem to be losing any sleep over it: "Well, I've been there done that before! Obviously, that happened to me in 2003 when David Millar was disqualified from the World Championships in Hamilton. It has happened to a handful of riders, I'm certainly not the only one."

For Rogers though, his focus and attention is completely on the Tour de France now, but he's keeping his goals in check ahead of the Grand Depart in Rotterdam.

"My goal is to finish right up there. I believe if everything goes perfect for me, I can finish top five. Can I win it? No, probably not. I've always said that not many people can honestly say that they can truly win the Tour de France. Some people kid themselves that they can win it. I think there are only one or two riders that can actually say they can win the Tour de France."

For Rogers though, a top five would be a huge leap forward for the Monaco resident, and would surely lay the foundation for a more concerted effort at the win in the future.

"I think I'm just getting to my best years now. I'm maturing physically and mentally. The way that I approach these races is different. I'm coming to the race this year with ten times more confidence than previous years. Also physically, I think I've matured a lot. I've worked really hard on consistency this year. When I say that, I mean, in the mountains and in the time trials. I think I've showed this year that I've been at the top in both disciplines in every stage race."

Rogers' 2010 success has been a long time coming following a period of bad luck and bad health. Last year was his first full season of racing since 2006. He crashed out of the 2007 Tour de France whilst racing to the Maillot Jaune, then succumbed to mononucleosis for most of the 2008 season. It will be interesting to see what he can do in July.

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