I realise there's four months to go before the start of the 2009 Tour de France, but I've always been one to take a gamble.
being the case, I'm going to stick my neck out and make a bold
prediction on the hopes and fortunes of Australia's own Michael Rogers.
I'm tipping Rogers will be the best placed Aussie on the General
Classification - better still I reckon he can possibly go all the way
and win the race!
Big call, I hear you say - but is it really?
Given his early season form the man affectionately called "Dodger" cannot be overlooked as a serious Tour contender.
there's still a long way to go before the starter's flag is dropped on
the streets of Monaco for the Tour prologue on July 4th, but if Rogers
is going to make a statement on the world cycling stage, it has to be
He's overcome the health issues of the past 12
months and is simply content with life after the birth of his twin
daughters in September last year.
When Michael was a
non-selection at last year's Grand Tours I asked him at the time
whether he was contemplating an early retirement as a racer to
concentrate on his family life first.
He simply responded in
the words and tone of Arnold Schwarzenegger from a famous Hollywood
blockbuster, "I'll be back." Too right he is.
gold and silver medals at the Australian Open Road Championships in
January and followed that performance with a top 6 overall finish at
the Tour Down Under.
All this when his only preparation was
on a wind trainer during the cold northern winter months before
arriving in Australia in early January.
He had a brilliant
Tour of California and to climb the podium at the end of a gruelling
eight-day race is confirmation he is improving with every event.
more encouraging is his race programme in the lead-up to the Tour de
France - it doesn't include an appearance in the Giro in May.
Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov, to name a
few, Rogers has opted to avoid Italy's national race in a bid to be in
tip-top form for Le Tour.
He feels he can do without the "training" and risk of injury which comes with such an event.
with the backing of an impressive Team Columbia-High Road - arguably
the world's best combination currently going around at the moment - he
may well feel this year may be his best opportunity at conquering the
world's most prestigious race.
For years Michael Rogers has shown his value as a talented and tough Grand Tour rider.
hoping the boy from Canberra will finally crack it for a place in the
history books come July 26th when the Tour de France reaches the finish
line in Paris.