Mick Rogers: “This is the time!”
Q&A Michael Rogers on stage 13
Towards the end of stage 13, two riders nodded at each other: ideal conditions were presented to the Saxo-Tinkoff team and Mick Rogers and Daniele Bennati realised the time was right to create some havoc. When the Australian was on the massage table a few hours after the stage, we spoke to him to get a first-hand perspective of what happened on the road to Saint-Amand-Montrond on the second Friday of the 100th Tour de France. Here is a transcript of that discussion…
That was an epic stage.
“I’m in all sorts of pain now.”
If you weren’t in pain, I don’t know what you’d have to do to get sore. Can you explain how you saw it all in the finale?
“With roughly 30 kilometres to go – I’m not exactly sure where it was – but the break looked it was about to sit up and it was just one of those moments when the wind was just the perfect direction and speed. I looked at Bennati and he looked back at me and we just both nodded – not a word was exchanged – and I quickly turned around and made sure Alberto was behind me and we just buried it, we didn’t even ask if he wanted to go with it, we just went.
“We just got everyone on the right moment but it was quite amazing. It was just The Moment. In a four hour stage, or whatever it was, there was just one split second that slapped us in the face and said, ‘This is the time!’”
So when Omega Pharma-Quickstep did their move, that wasn’t much of a problem for your guys? You were all in control at that point?
“Most of the day we had Bennati and Tosatto worked really well; that’s what they came to the Tour for, they are here to look after those situations so we were all in a good position for the whole stage really. And we were able to save a lot of energy. We had to fight to stay in the front but I think everyone was fighting the whole day behind us.”
Once the 14 guys got away at the end, were you enjoying it? How does that moment feel?
“Obviously, in the back of our minds, we were enjoying it but it was a really tough moment. We were all on the limit, especially in the last 10km but once again we knew everyone behind us was also on the limit because we were increasing the time gap as we were going. I think there was, however, a little bit of a smile on all of our faces deep down. It’s amazing how much more you can pull out of yourself when you’ve got all your team-mates there. If I was on my own there’s no way I’d be able to withhold that amount of fatigue and then keep on racing.”
Apparently you said it was ‘the hardest stage you’ve done’. Is that right?
“It’s up there but they got me with a question about two seconds after I crossed the line but it was certainly one of the harder days. The mountain stages are tough but that was just ON the whole day! It’s no secret that those sorts of days can be harder than the mountain days sometimes.”
How do you think you’ll pull up on Saturday morning? Do you think that the effort in stage 13 will have sapped you?
“Oh, for sure we shot a lot of bullets today but I think everyone else did as well because if they didn’t they would have been with us. I think everyone will have sore legs for stage 14 but we’ve all done hard stages before and everyone wakes up with sore legs but once we warm up a little bit and get moving we’ll be better.”
When you were swapping off in the final stretch, who was doing the biggest turns?
“It was pretty even but Bennati was very, very strong. That’s his forte, that kind of stuff. He was probably the strongest in the team then.
“We didn’t want Alberto to spent too much energy because, obviously, he needs it but I think he realised the situation and it was favourable to him so he put in a few turns just to give us a little bit of a break every now and then which was great otherwise we could have all blown up with 15 kilometres to go.”
What about your emotions of riding against Sky – is that in your mind at all?
“It wasn’t actually, no. I was just concentrating on opening that gap up as much as I could. There’s no kind of team-against-team, the priority was just to keep my team together, that’s first and foremost in my mind. I wanted to open that gap up as much as I could.”
Can you offer some comments about Alberto and how he handled the stage?
“He was just great. He was motivating us and yelling in the radio, ‘Come on! One more turn! One more turn each! Come on! Faster, faster… faster!’ He was certainly a great guy to work for. It’s really nice to have something like that with the whole team.
“In cycling there is one thing you kind of miss; it is a team sport but there’s not always the gratification of the whole team. But when we do something like we did in stage 13, it really bonds the team together and I must say it was a similar feeling to what I had in 2009 with HTC. You end the day feeling extremely satisfied and it’s amazing how much more you can give when you’ve got not a lot of guys behind you and they’re all hurting… everyone is hurting together and they’re on their last legs but they manage to pull more out of themselves.”
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