Tinkoff-Saxo Rider Michael Rogers attacked on the 28-km descent of the final climb of the 249-km Stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia, and the three-time World Time Trial Champion showed his form, holding off the entire peloton until the finish line to take the stage win.
Rogers had been having a terrible year: he had been suspended for testing positive for the banned chemical Clenbuterol, which he picked up eating contaminated meat in China. He was cleared on appeal, but lost almost the entire early racing season.
The 34-year-old Australian crossed the finish line ten seconds ahead of the peloton after nearly six hours on the bike. He could have won by a bigger gap, but since he is not a GC contender, he opted instead to slow down and savor the victory
“That was certainly a beautiful moment,” Rogers told beIN Sports. “The team tried really hard with Nicolas [Roche] and Ivan [Rovny] up front. Unfortunately the break was brought back but I was able to take advantage of that.
“It was a spur-of-the-moment move. I saw the GC contenders all looking around at each other so I took a chance and it paid off.”
Stage 11 featured a par of Cat 2 climbs, one 65 km in and one 30 km from the finish. Many people predicted a breakaway win, but few predicted a late attack on the final descent would be successful.
Despite repeated attacks starting from kilometer zero, nothing could escape until the end of the first Cat 2 climb more than sixty km into the stage. The General Classification contenders were not going to let any rider who presented even the slightest threat get away.
Fourteen riders finally got away: Enrico Barbin and Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani-CSF,) Francis Mourey (FDJ,) Perrig Quemeneur, Björn Thurau and Romain Sicard (Europcar,) Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano,) Eduard Vorganov and Daniel Moreno (Katusha,) Philip Deignan (Sky,) Nicolas Roche and Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff-Saxo,) Yonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli,) and Moreno Moser (Cannondale.)
This group opened a gap of about five minutes, splitting and reforming. As there were no GC contenders in the break, BMC didn’t bother chasing. Instead, Androni Giocattoli, one of the few smaller teams which missed the break, did its best to chase down the escapees.
This escape group stayed away and worked together until it hit the day’s final climb, 34 km from the finish, when four riders attacked the break and Trek’s Julian Arredondo attacked the peloton and joined the four 32.8 km from the end, with a 35-second gap.
This group added and dropped riders; Arredondo led a quartet of Franco Pellizotti (Androni,) Pierre Rolland (Europcar,) Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano,) and Alberto Losada (Katusha) over the top of the climb at 28 km, but by 24 km the peloton had swept up everyone ahead on the long descent.
Michael Rogers attacked on the descent, 21 km from the line and quickly opened a 500-meter gap on the peloton. This gap stretched to as much as 44 seconds, then shrank steadily. The final 3.5 kilometers of the stage were flat, and the final half-kilometer slightly uphillt, but Rogers had the legs and the will to make up for the first half of his season.
BMC’s Cadel Evans remains in the race leader’s pink jersey, with 50 seconds over Omega Pharma-Quickstep’s Rigoberto Uran and 70 seconds on Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka.
Stage 12 is a 42-km individual time trial, with a Cat 4 climb in the first third and another good lump at the end, and with an uphill finish. Look for the General Classification to get shaken up here.