Giro d’Italia 2014: Michael Rogers solos to stage 11 victory

Australian celebrates return to the peloton with first Grand Tour stage win

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) soloed to stage 11 victory in the Giro d’Italia after a perfectly timed attack on the descent of the Naso di Gatto.

Rogers, a late addition to the Tinkoff-Saxo line-up after his provisional suspension for a failed doping test – something he always attributed to eating contaminated meat – was lifted, stormed to victory to announce his return in style.

On a day where the break was fancied to succeed, a determined peloton brought the race back together on the second and final category two climb of the day.

Michael Rogers on his way to stage victory (Pic: Sirotti)

And it was Rogers who took advantage, bursting away from the bunch on the final descent and staying clear to win the first individual Grand Tour stage of his career.

“It was certainly a beautiful moment,” said Rogers. “The team tried really hard today. We had Nico Roche and Ivan Rovny up front and worked really well.

“Unfortunately the break came back but it created an opportunity for me and I was able to take advantage of it. It was certainly a spur of the moment thing. A possibility opened up and I took it.”

An incident-packed stage, and one without former maglia rosa Michael Matthews after the Orica-GreenEDGE rider abandoned as a result of the injuries suffered in his stage nine crash, saw a frantic pace set from the start. Crashes were plentiful throughout the day and Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp) was forced to quite the race early in to the day with a hamstring tear.

Attacks and counter-attacks continually sprung off the front of the peloton with the stage set for a break to stay out all day and a host of riders and teams wanting to be represented, with an average speed close to 50km/h which caused a split in the peloton, with Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) and Alexandre Geniez ( two riders to make a bid off the front.

The stage was littered with crashes – Adriano Malori showing the effects of one early tumble (pic: Sirotti)

Their move was short-lived, but Geniez, Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar) attacked again, eventually causing another split in the bunch as the category two Passo Cento Croci approached.

Maglia rosa Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) remained in front of the split, but again it was short-lived as blue jersey leader Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) took full advantage to claim maximum King of the Mountains points.

The hairy descent caused problems for some of the riders, with Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) abandoning and Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky) bearing more than a few scars to show the high-speed impact of the crash. Double stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) was also involved, continuing to ride but looking in some discomfort.

The day’s break eventually went clear and consisted of Roche, Quemeneur, Philip Deignan (Team Sky), Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff-Saxo), Bjorn Thurau and Romain Sicard (both Europcar), Francis Mourey (, Dani Moreno and Eduard Vorganov (both Katusha), Moreno Moser (Cannondale), Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano), Jonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli), and Francesco Bongiorno and Enrico Barbin (both Bardiani-CSF).

Their lead extended to nearly five minutes, but having missed the break Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela pulled very hard on the front of the bunch to keep the escapees in check.

A crash at the back of the bunch then brought down the likes of Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Evans’ team-mate Steve Morabito (BMC Racing). That prompted Evans, who had taken advantage of a crash earlier in the Giro, to request a slowing of the pace – but his requests fell on deaf ears.

Androni continued to pull hard, eventually easing off as the climb of the Naso di Gatto approached, bringing the leaders’ advantage to within 90 seconds.

Michael Rogers celebrates his stage win (pic: Sirotti)

Deignan’s hopes of a stage win from the break looked to be over after an ill-timed puncture, but the Irishman rode hard to rejoin the leading group.

And as the group reached the final 40 kilometres, what had been expected to be a long day up the road was starting to come to an end, with their lead brought down to just a minute as BMC Racing, Belkin and Omega Pharma-Quickstep hit the front of the chasing peloton.

The lower ramps of the climb proved sufficient to shatter the break, with Bongiorno, Priedler, Moreno and Roche going clear at the front. As the remaining escapees’ challenge faded, Arredondo attacked from the peloton as he hunted more King of the Mountains points.

The ease with which he caught and passed the first escapees, before catching Roche’s group – in the big ring – and breezing past them was certainly impressive. Roche counter-attacked, but couldn’t get on the Trek man’s wheel, though Priedler did manage to latch back on.

Arredondo led the way over the summit to claim maximum King of the Mountains points and extend his blue jersey lead before he waited for a group of chasing riders for the descent.

The bunch soon cut their advantage though, and with no GC rider apparently interested in making a move, Rogers seized his opportunity, bursting clear with a aggressive descent and quickly building a lead.

The three-time former world time trial champion showed all of his experience of racing against the clock, tucking into an area position to make the most of his advantage.

Rogers says he has been training intensively throughout his time away from the peloton, and he certainly showed no sign of rustiness as he held an 11-second lead under the flamme rouge.

A spirited chase by Giant-Shimano reduced that gap a little, but compatriot Cadel Evans and BMC Racing showed little desire for the race to come back together as they sat on the front.

And Rogers was the beneficiary, continuing the theme of Australian success at this year’s Giro d’Italia with what will no doubt rank as a popular victory.

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Giro d’Italia 2014: stage 11 – result

1) Michael Rogers (AUS) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 5.48.07hrs
2) Simon Geschke (GER) – Giant-Shimano +10”
3) Enrico Battaglin (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF – ST
4) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling
5) Gianluca Brambilla (ITA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
6) Moreno Moser (ITA) – Cannondale
7) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Garmin-Sharp
8) Matteo Rabottini (ITA) – Neri Sottoli
9) Fabio Duarte (COL) – Team Colombia
10) Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale

General classification

1) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing – 48.39.04hrs
2) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +57”
3) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.10
4) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.20
5) Steve Morabito (SUI) – BMC Racing +1.31
6) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +1.39
7) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +1.44
8) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +1.45
9) Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) – Trek Factory Racing +1.49
10) Ivan Basso (ITA) – Cannondale +2.01


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