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Following on from a season where he gathered two stage wins in the Giro d’Italia, one in the Tour de France and also third overall in the Route du Sud, Michael Rogers has set his sights on hitting the ground running in 2015 and notching up a high overall finish in the Santos Tour Down Under.
Rogers was confirmed Monday as leading the team in the WorldTour event, which will take place in his home country of Australia.
“I’m excited to return to Adelaide for my eleventh Santos Tour Down Under. I’m bringing an enthusiastic and committed Tinkoff-Saxo team, with the aim of getting the season off to a good start,” he said.
Directeur sportif Lars Michaelsen set out the team’s goals and said that it would be willing to assume the position of one of the favourites.
“The entire team is very excited about kicking off the season in Australia. We’re ready to take responsibility in the race, and I feel that we have a strong group of riders who are very motivated to support Michael to the fullest,” he said.
“We come with ambitions aiming for a top five with Michael but we also know that it’s very early in the season and there are a lot of unknown factors.”
Rogers will be joined by six others from the Russian team, namely Christopher Juul-Jensen, Manuele Boaro, Jesper Hansen, Michael Kolar, Pavel Brutt and Evgeny Petrov.
The Australian won the race overall in 2002 and while it is a much bigger race now than it was then, he has enough faith in his ability to set out big ambitions almost one month ahead of the race start on January 20.
The team regards the hilltop finish as likely the biggest determinant of a high overall finish, and will work to keep him in a prominent GC position prior to that showdown.
Michaelsen knows that if they can do this, a strong overall finish is very possible.
“We have to keep Michael in a good position before the queen stage to Willunga Hill, where we’ll most likely see the big race favourites try to decide the race,” he said.
“That requires a consistent effort from the entire team, but I sense that all the guys are motivated and ready to fight for each other.”
Rogers will be required to ride for Alberto Contador in many races next season and so consequently will seize any personal opportunities he can take. The Australian race will be one of the biggest of those.