Rogers relishing cycling turnaround
20 January 2015
Twelve months after stressing that his professional career would come to a
devastating end, Australia's Michael Rogers has never been a happier cyclist.
The 35-year-old is coming off the first Grand Tour stage wins of his career and will start this week's Tour Down Under among the favourites.
But a year ago, there was no Adelaide race for Rogers - or any other competition.
He was under provisional suspension after failing a doping test.
After months of anxiety and hefty legal bills, authorities accepted Rogers' evidence that contaminated meat he had eaten during a race in China was to blame.
He was cleared in April and won two stages in the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) a month later.
Two months after that twin triumph, he also won a stage in the Tour de France for the first time.
The contrast between how his season had started and how it ended could not have been any starker.
"It's black and white ... my head is still spinning," he said of last year.
"I still smile about the stage wins, absolutely.
"The old saying, `what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger', is very appropriate here.
"You could also say there's a silver lining in every cloud.
"It deeply motivates me and I've found new sides to the sport."
The crisis also made Rogers start wondering what he would do with the rest of his career and life beyond pro cycling.
"In a very weird way, it opened up a thought process that was probably due a couple of years later," he said.
After years of frustration, Rogers has given up trying to be an overall contender in the Giro and Tour de France.
Instead, he will concentrate on stage wins in those races - which he did so well last year - and shorter tours such as Down Under.
"With hindsight, I look back and think it's better to spend time on your talents than spending time on your weaknesses," he said.
"I wish I'd realised it before.
"I lived a lot of years of frustration."
Rogers had a solid buildup to the Tour at last week's Australian road titles and he clearly will come into this week with strong form.
He expects Thursday's third stage, with the new uphill finish at Paracombe in the Adelaide Hills, to be even more important than Saturday's Queen Stage at Willunga.
"Absolutely, I'd love to finish in the top five (overall) - particularly now with the extra hilltop finish," he said.
"It (Paracombe) will win the Tour - I think it's a lot more decisive than Willunga."