Every cloud has silver lining, says stage winner Rogers
Australia's Michael Rogers celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the end of the 237.5 km sixteenth stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France race between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon on July 22, 2014 - by Jeff Pachoud
The 34-year-old Australian escaped from a five-man breakaway group to claim victory on the Tour's mammoth 237.5km 16th stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon on Tuesday.
Yet the Tinkoff-Saxo rider's success came only after a temporary suspension for taking the banned stimulant clenbuterol was lifted.
Rogers had tested positive for clenbuterol at the Japan Cup last October but he was cleared by the International Cycling Union (UCI) of any wrong-doing back in April.
"Certainly it's been a lesson in life for me, I just accepted the person who I was," said Rogers of his enforced break.
"I always dreamed of winning a Grand Tour and I tried for many years.
"All of a sudden I realised, stop trying to live someone else's life, you can win stages, you can win seven-day stage races that are a little bit shorter.
"I can attribute it to a different outlook on life. I don't give up easily.
"Objectives are very hard to understand and sometimes you need a lesson in life to see the real silver lining in the cloud."
Although a three-time world time-trial champion, Rogers had never before won a Grand Tour stage before this year.
He won two at the Giro d'Italia in May, just a month after returning from suspension, and now managed his first Tour stage in his 10th appearance at the Grand Boucle.
- 205 stages without win -
"You dream of winning a stage of the Tour de France since you're a kid. This was my 10th Tour, that makes 205 stages I've been without a win.
"It's amazing, I can't describe the joy I felt in the last 500m when I knew I was going to win.
"I hope I don't have to wait another 10 years to feel that again."
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who had twice before won stages in this town, took second in a sprint finish 9sec behind Rogers, ahead of Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus.
Colombian Jose Serpa was fourth with Cyril Gautier of France fifth.
They were the remnants of a 21-man breakaway that got clear of the bunch with around 150km still to go.
But it was behind that, in the peloton, where some of the major action was happening.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali held onto his race leader's yellow jersey, 4min 37sec ahead of Alejandro Valverde, as he came home in a small and elite group of his closest rivals.
But 23-year-old Frenchman Romain Bardet, who was dropped on the hors category Port de Bales climb, fell from third overall to fifth after losing 1:50 to his immediate rivals.
That promoted 24-year-old compatriot Thibaut Pinot from fourth to third with veteran 37-year-old Jean Christophe Peraud, another Frenchman, moving up from sixth to fourth.
American Tejay Van Garderen also suffered as he was dropped even earlier than Bardet and gave up around 3:30. He now sits more than four minutes off a podium spot.
Pinot really impressed with an attack that only Nibali could respond to, although Peraud dug in and crested the Bales summit only a few seconds behind his countryman.
Although he and Valverde caught Pinot and Nibali on the descent to the finish, the young Frenchman had shown his strength, and had at least gained time on two rivals.
"I struck a blow. I had great legs and I had to take advantage of that," said Pinot.
"Bales is a very tough climb but tomorrow is another great stage and I hope to still have good legs."
Pinot knows that Peraud and Van Garderen are better time-triallers and said he needs to gain more time on them if he is to defend his podium spot all the way to Paris.
"My aim is third place but I'll have to wait until Saturday night to see where I am because there's a 55km time-trial (that day) and I need more time on Van Garderen and Peraud," he said.
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