Michal Rogers is back on top with team Sky two years after leading HTC-Highroad in stage races. The Aussie recovered from glandular fever and stepped in to become one of Bradley Wiggins' key helpers.
"I've always dreamed about performing well at the Tour, but also being apart of a team that can win it," he told Cycling Weekly. "After 12 years of professional, to be finally in that situation is nice."
Rogers spoke outside the team bus, where journalists and fans circled for Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. He's important to their success, helping Wiggins win the Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné stage races so far this year. Yesterday, he tumbled off his bike racing to the finish in Seraing. When he arrived at the bus, his jersey was well ventilated from landing on his back.
He moved comfortably and spoke freely this morning. The worst is behind him. Glandular fever whipped out most of last season. Based on experience, having already suffered from it in 2001 and 2008, Rogers knew he had to rest. He didn't race for three months, from May to August.
"Certainly, there's challenging times when you think of the worst," Rogers continued. "I'm the first one to say there were times when I said, 'Can I come back from this again?' There are always hard moments, but you always have to believe that there's light at the end of the tunnel. There always is!"
Rogers travelled and trained at altitude in Sierra Nevada as part of Sky's A-team. He benefited by winning the Bayern-Rundfahrt stage race, placing second in Dauphiné and fifth in Romandy.
In 2010, Rogers won Tour of Andalusia, the Tour of California and placed third in Romandy. As a three-time World Champion in the time trial and good climber, he even tried to challenge for the overall in Grand Tours. In 2006, he rode to ninth overall in the Tour, but gave up his dream of winning Grand Tours in 2009.
"I found it hard to recover from that last week in the past, hopefully this year's better," Rogers said. "We've decided that Brad's our best chance. He's been riding well in all the races this year and I still believe that our best chance to win this race is with him."
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
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Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever