Still coming to terms with the crash-enforced withdrawal of Alberto Contador two days ago, Michael Rogers has spoken about the low mood on the Tinkoff Saxo team but also the determination to still make a mark on the race.
“Things could be better but we have to soldier on,” he told CyclingTips at the start of Wednesday’s eleventh stage in Besançon. “Unfortunately with life, sometimes these things happen. We hadn’t planned for it to work out this way but it has. We will try to move on.”
Contador crashed badly on Bastille Day, fracturing his tibia and being forced to retire from the race. The team had focussed completely on his campaign and that factor, plus the time lost by others on the day in question, means that each rider is well out of overall contention.
Rogers said that a new target had been set. “We are going to go for some stages. The race is hard enough as it is. If we give up and stay in sorrows it is going to be even harder,” he stated.
“We came into this race with a Plan A and there was no Plan B. Now we have to dream it all up again. I believe a team defines its character in tough moments and that is all ahead of us now.”
Rogers was sidelined at the end of last year due to a positive test for clenbuterol but, after being deemed not to be at fault and getting a green light to return by the UCI, he competed in the Giro d’Italia.
He clocked up two stage wins there and would very much like to add a Tour stage to his palmares. However he accepts it is a different prospect to the Giro.
“It is not easy to get in the breaks at the Tour de France, especially in the last week…it is all legs,” he said. “But we still have a strong team. It might take us a few days to refocus, as I said, but certainly what choice have we got other than stage victories? There is nothing else.
“The Tour is a a very different race [to the Giro]. It is a lot more aggressive. There’s a lot more pressure, a lot more standing on the Tour. So everyone is going to be going for those breaks.”