Tinkoff-Saxo’s GC captain, Michael Rogers, was in the mix of GC contenders fighting for the win on stage 3 of Tour Down Under. With a steep, final 2-kilometer climb featuring percentages around 15 % on some sections, the favorites drew swords and battled it out up towards the finish line in Paracombe.
Michael Rogers finished 5th on the day and takes 7th overall in the same time as Richie Porte (Team Sky) in 4th. They are now 15 seconds down on race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC), who also took the stage win following a surprise attack on the last 200 meters of the stage. Upon his return to the Tinkoff-Saxo team hotel, Rogers commented:
“I’m very happy with how it went today. It was a new and untested climb. We hit the bottom after 140 kilometers in a hectic pace, I made sure to find my rhythm and I actually felt pretty good on the climb, which is definitely a nice way to start the season”, says Michael Rogers.
For the third day in a row, four riders made it into the main breakaway of the stage. The group had several minutes on the pack for the majority of the race, but as the favorites closed in on the final climb, so did they on the breakaway, which was caught with 8,7km to go. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Christopher Juul-Jensen, Oliver Zaugg and Jesper Hansen worked hard to position team captain Michael Rogers in the front of the field before the final steep kilometers.
Climb got the system online
The favorites and their lieutenants immediately set a ferocious speed on the climb in what seemed as an uphill lead-out. A small gap among the favorites was closed on the last 0,5km and that was where Rohan Dennis jumped from the front group and secured the stage win. According to Michael Rogers “today’s stage definitely got the system online”.
“Today was actually a bit of a shock really - at least for my body. It was the first stage of the season, where we went full gas on a climb. Normally, I prefer longer and steadier climbs but I felt good today, and I look forward to stage 5 to Willunga Hill, where the race will be decided”, explains Michael Rogers, who is glad to see his fellow teammates finding their race shape.
“The boys are getting better and better. I had a few race days before Tour Down Under at the nationals, but guys like Chris Juul, Zaugg, Jesper Hansen are really finding their race speed. I think we can create some good results together here at the second part of the race”.
Oliver Zaugg crosses the finish line after having provided valuable help leading up to the final climb
Michael Rogers won Tour Down Under in 2002. Since then he has seen the race grow bigger each year with an increasing amount of enthusiastic spectators along the Australian roads.
“As a native Australian, it’s really encouraging to see this great race evolve. There are so many people at the side of the roads enjoying the summer and showing their support for cycling”, finishes Michael Rogers.
With tomorrow’s 145km stage from Glenelg to Mount Barker favoring the sprinters, the GC contenders will have to wait until Saturday for the queen stage to Willunga Hill.