Michael Rogers, who has made an impressive comeback to top level racing from a provisional doping ban after recently being cleared by authorities, will definitely be picked to compete in this year’s Tour de France, says his team manager Bjarne Riis.
Rogers' (Tinkoff-Saxo) claim that a positive test for clenbuterol in the Tour of Beijing last October was due to eating contaminated meat was accepted by the Union Cycliste Internationale after consultation with the World Anti Doping Agency. He has ridden superbly since making his comeback in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic on April 27, and the Giro d’Italia which finishes on June 1.
Rogers, 34, has ridden strongly for his Polish team leader, Rafal Majka, in the Giro, who after Saturday’s 164km 14th stage from Aglie to Oropa, was third overall.
He has also tasted victory with his win in last Wednesday’s 11th stage of the Giro from Collecchio to Savona, after attacking near the end to cross the finish line first.
Upon his return to racing, Rogers said that his ambition was to race the Tour. And so far, his performances - after five months of training on his own - have indicated that he should be picked. But now, his place in the team has been confirmed by Riis.
Asked if he had spoken to two-time Tour winner, Alberto Contador, the Tinkoff-Saxo team Tour leader, about Rogers’ strong recent rides, Riis said: “I have - and he is happy.
"It is important for him, and [Rogers] will be in the Tour. No doubt about that.”
But Riis, who said he followed Rogers’ progress in training during his time out, revealed that he had always intended for him to race in the Tour, and that it had not just been one performance that had convinced him that he would be ready.
“It has been in the plan the whole time. I believe what he can do and trust him,” he said.
Riis has no concerns about Rogers’ ability to race for Majka in the Giro with 100 per cent commitment and back up with the same conviction to help Contador at the Tour.
“He knows what he is doing. It was in the plan that he should do this and build up for the Tour. And after the Giro he has time to recover and it is perfect,” Riis said.
But Rogers admitted on Saturday that after two weeks, the Giro was taking its toll on his team, and it wasn't easy going.
“There are days … on the flatter days I can take it a little bit easy,” Rogers told Fairfax Media.
“It’s getting a little bit technical because a few of the guys are tired and kind of haven’t got the legs to be up there in the finish.
"I have to be a man of all kind of trades at the moment. We’re doing our best. But I have a month to rest up for the Tour.”
Rupert Guinness is covering the Giro d’Italia as a guest of Eurosport. Eurosport are covering every stage live. Monday is a rest day. Watch stage 16, Ponte di Legno to Val Martello/Martelltal – 139km, on Tuesday live from 10.30pm on Eurosport Ch 511 Foxtel. *Times are subject to change.
The story Michael Rogers set to make Tour de France comeback after impressing at Giro d'Italia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.