When will Michael Rogers join Orica-GreenEdge?
It’s not a case of whether or not Michael Rogers will join Australia’s first World Tour cycling team. It’s a matter of when.
He’s ready. Thirty-two now, Rogers has won world titles, been a superb time-trial talent, and had flashes of Grand Tour-winning potential.
But Rogers has always lacked something. Consistency? Luck? Desire, even?
His physical condition cannot be questioned. Rogers was awesome in the mountains of this year’s Tour de France.
He didn’t have to be quite so hot in the time trials because his job was to support Bradley Wiggins and Teams Sky’s Tour effort.
But what if Rogers had been in opposition? If he had climbed like he did and time trialled to his potential, he would have been a genuine threat to Wiggins. And that’s why Orica-GreenEdge need him.
“We’ve got the utmost respect for Michael, and the job he did with Sky this year was something special,” Orice-GreenEdge general manager Shayne Bannan said.
“At the right time, and under the right circumstances, we’d love to talk to Michael in the future and hopefully get him across before he retires, but it won’t be for next year.”
I’m always suspicious when politicians say that something that seems logical won’t happen. I feel the same way about sports managers.
Rogers has a year of his Sky contract to go but contracts can be bought, and not always for as much as you might think. But would Rogers be a good buy for Orica-GreenEdge?
Going on his 2012 Tour performance, then yes. In fact they should sign him as soon as they possibly can.
But some riders perform better when they are performing for somebody else, and I wonder if Rogers isn’t one of them.
“Even though I won 35 races as a pro I was happier working for the team; I liked the feeling when the team won,” Garmin-Sharp’s Australian directeur-sportif Alan Peiper said.
“Being there with Panasonic when we won the team time trial in the 1990 Tour was an amazing feeling. Being so powerful as a block was the best feeling I ever had.”
Some riders are like that; they can only ride to their full potential, and sometimes even surpass it, when they ride for others.
Peiper said that, in his case, it was probably a case of not having enough self-belief to be a winner.
It’s also down to taking responsibility, and that can be difficult if it doesn’t come naturally. Not all riders are natural born leaders like Lance Armstrong or Alberto Contador.
It took Bradley Wiggins two full years after his Tour de France fourth place in 2009 to take responsibility for leading Team Sky. To put it even more bluntly, it took him that long to take responsibility for the huge amount of money they pay him.
Pay in cycling isn’t for what a racer has done. It’s for what he could do.
Of course Rogers has won races. He’s claimed three world time-trial championships and plenty of medium-length stage races. But leading a team in a Grand Tour will be a big step into untried territory.
And he’s 32, which – from a physical perspective at least – is probably not relevant nowadays when you think of riders like Jen Voigt. However by 32, a person’s mindset and personality are well formed.
Rogers would have to change his. And because of that he’s a gamble.
But it’s one that could pay, and Orica-GreenEdge must step up as in 2013, their second year. If they had Rogers in the team they could help him change and give him the confidence to really go for it
However, for the time being there isn’t any space.
“There won’t be any more signing by us,” Bannan confirms.
His team is full, on paper, but 37 year-old Julian Dean is only back racing now in the Tour of Spain (the Vuelta) after crashing in Spanish race Volta a Catalunya in March this year.
He had a one-year deal with Orica and hasn’t decided his future.
Bannan says they will discuss it after the Vuelta ends, but if Dean goes there will space for Rogers.
We will have to wait and see what happens. But if the space comes up Orica-GreenEdge should do all they can to sign Mick Rogers.
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