PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Quick Step's Michael Rogers has his sights set on a podium place at this year's Tour, but denies rumours that he's signed for Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile squad for next season.
Michael Rogers sat at Quick Step-Innergetic's pre-Tour press conference flanked by team-mates Tom Boonen and Patrik Sinkewitz in the Palais des Expositions in Challans. Come July 24, it's almost unthinkable that the Australian will stand on the Champs Elyses flanked by second and third place overall, but he has his sights set on being one of those two doing the flanking.
"I'm coming to this race in the best condition I have. I will do my best race, and what happens, happens," the 25 year old said. "I'm hoping I'll do well, and am hoping for a podium place - it's what Australian cycling needs."
Quick Step's nine-man team is, besides himself and Sinkewitz, who will both target the general classification, heavily weighted towards helping sprinter Boonen in his quest for stage wins and the green jersey, but Rogers will not let the Belgian have it all his own way.
"There are lots of guys to help Tom, but they're also here to help us," said Rogers. "Of course they are there to ride as hard as they can for us, and as hard as they can in the mountains - there will be no easy days for them in the mountains."
An accomplished time triallist, Rogers is confident that the team will be good enough to allow him not to lose too much time to his rivals in Tuesday's stage four team time trial between Tours and Blois. "We've got some strong, big guys, who will be good on the flat. I'm not sure we'll be up there, but we will be able to limit our losses for the general classification," Rogers said.
Rogers will start Saturday's opening individual time trial as one of the favourites. "It's an important day on Saturday," Rogers agreed. "For me, it's a very good distance of nearly 20km. The course is relatively basic, but it will be very windy."
However, Rogers was quick to play down the importance of the stage for the general classification. "I don't think the margins lost or gained on Saturday will mean much. This Tour will be won in the mountains," he said. "There are some hard mountain stages. The most important time trial will come after 20 days of racing [on Saturday July 23]."
Rogers also played down press-room rumours say that he could be headed to German team T-Mobile next season - and that he has already signed. "That's not true. Cyclists are worse than women when it comes to the rumours that go around the bunch all the time. It's not the case that I've signed," Rogers said, before adding: "We'll see what happens after the Tour."
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM