Rogers wins stage 16 in Tour de France
Australian Michael Rogers wins his first ever Tour de France stage as Italian Vicenzo Nibali maintains his overall race lead.PT0M0S 620 349
Take a bow, Michael Rogers.
After ''staring down the barrel of the death of his cycling career'', the 34-year-old has exhumed the demons of a wrongful doping ban to claim the one major milestone missing from his brilliant cycling resume.
Michael Rogers celebrates his Tour de France stage win. Photo: Reuters
With arms raised in jubilation after more than six hours and 237.5km on the bike, the Canberra rider claimed the 16th stage of the Tour de France from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon on Wednesday morning.
This victory comes just a couple of months after Rogers broke through for his first two stage wins in the Giro d'Italia.
Rogers – a triple world champion in the time trial – has made countless sacrifices during his 14 years as a professional cyclist, but it appeared to come crashing down when he was banned for four months at the end of last year for testing positive to clenbuterol.
He was later cleared of any wrongdoing after it was determined that it came from contaminated meat.
''There was a lesson in life for me, I just accepted the person who I was,'' Rogers said.
''I always dreamt of winning a grand tour.
''I tried for many years, and all of a sudden I [realised I] should stop living someone else's life.''
Deane Rogers watched his brother's victory and was in contact with him via text messages in the early hours of Wednesday morning to congratulate him.
''He's certainly experienced the highs and lows this year,'' Rogers said.
''Through that unfortunate China episode, he was staring down the barrel of the death of his cycling career, but he knew best and held hope, and I think he's come back a better cyclist.
''He's mentally tougher and he's making the most of the latter years of his career.''
Rogers is competing in his 10th Tour de France. He finished ninth overall in 2006 and sixth in the 2009 Giro d'Italia, but his role has now changed to be a domestique for teammates who are contending for the general classification title.
When team leader Alberto Contador pulled out of the race after a crash, that allowed Rogers to pursue his own individual honours.
''I'm certainly riding smarter at this point of my career,'' Rogers said. ''My new state of mind opens doors to many opportunities.''
Rogers' parents, Ian and Sonja, have watched every stage of the Tour de France from Canberra, while his wife and children are at their home in Switzerland before they meet him for the final stage at the Champs Elysees in Paris.
''It was absolutely wonderful, a most deserving win,'' Sonja said. ''It's been his best and his worst year all in one.
''He's always ridden in support of someone else and we believe he's one of the most under-rated riders in the whole peloton.''
Former Tour de France competitor, fellow Canberra product Stephen Hodge, said Rogers is highly respected among the rest of the field.
''It reinforces the fabulous start that cyclists get in Canberra,'' Hodge said. ''For Michael personally, it confirms what a class athlete he is and always has been from his early years.
''A tour stage win is right up there alongside a classics win, a world championship win, and so on.''