Giro d'Italia - Veteran Rogers rides to redemption in Savona

Australia's superb Giro d'Italia continued with veteran Mick Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) soloing to a nail-biting stage 11 win in Savona.

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Giro d'Italia - Veteran Rogers rides to redemption in Savona
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Michael Rogers lors du Giro 2014.

Rogers attacked on the descent of the Cat.2 Naso di Gatto climb 21 kilometres from the finish of the undulating 249km stage from Collecchio.

Opening up a maximum gap of 45 seconds on the streamlined peloton on the fast and technical descent, Rogers held on for an emotional win in the Mediterranean port less than two months after he was cleared to race by the UCI after testing positive for Clenbuterol during last autumn's Japan Cup.

Germany's Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) led the peloton over the line 10 seconds in arrears with another veteran Australian, Cadel Evans of BMC, retaining the leader's pink jersey ahead of Thursday's individual time trial.

The second longest day of the race was a frantic affair from the outset, with a high average speed of 49kmph over the first hour of racing thwarting any attempts at a breakaway.

A large group of 22 riders edged clear on the opening Cat.2 climb of the day, the Passo Cento Croci, but they were swiftly reeled in by the peloton.

It was not until half way through the stage that a group of 14 riders - including Rogers' Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates Nicolas Roche and Ivan Rovny - opened a significant gap over the peloton.

But hard work by the Androni-Giocattoli team of Italian veteran Franco Pellizotti and Dutch national champion Johnny Hoogerland chipped away at the five-minute advantage and saw the group swallowed up on the Naso di Gatto climb, 30km from the finish.

Colombian climber Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) attacked to take maximum points over the summit - just as he had done on the earlier categorised climb - and consolidate his lead in the blue jersey mountains competition.

Arredondo was joined by Pellizotti, Frenchman Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani), Alberto Losada (Katusha) and one of the initial escapees, Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano). But the splinter group never eked out more than 30 seconds on the pack and were soon reeled in on the stop-start descent.

"It was a spur of the moment thing," said Rogers when recounting his decisive move. "I saw on the climb that the GC riders were looking at each other and so I took advantage of the circumstances on the descent."

Victory in Savona was 34-year-old Rogers' first individual win on a Grand Tour - and just rewards for his team's attacking riding throughout the day.

"It was certainly a beautiful moment," he said. "The team rode really hard today. We had Nico Roche and Ivan [Rovny] in the break but it came back. Then I made my move."

Evans, who retained a 57-second lead over Colombia's Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), was quick to congratulate his compatriot after what has been a tricky period.

"Cycling's been unfair on him during the last few months and so it's great to see him turning it around," said Evans, referring to Rogers' enforced time out from the sport in the wake of his positive test last October.

Rogers' win was the latest scalp in what's proving to be a wonderful Giro for Australia, with individual stage wins for Michael Matthews and fellow Orica-GreenEdge rider Pieter Weening, the rangy Dutch climber, not to forget the team's opening time trial victory in Belfast and maglie rosa for Canada's Svein Tuft, Matthews and Evans himself.

While Rogers took the win, things were less rosy for his team-mate Chris Anker Sorensen, who was one of a raft of riders to crash in yet another incident-packed stage.

Early crashes saw the withdrawals of Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp) and Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) while Sky's Salvatore Puccio suffered severe road rash and facial grazes following a nasty fall.

Then, with 75km remaining, a large pile-up in the peloton saw a number of riders needing treatment, including Evans' key BMC lieutenant Steve Morabito.

FOURTEEN-MAN GROUP: A frantic opening couple of hours saw numerous riders try and fail to get away. Eventually, the day's main break formed and featured Francesco Bongiorno and Enrico Bardin (both Bardiani-CSF), Moreno Moser (Cannondale), Francis Mourey (FDJ), Yonathan Monsalve (Nero Sottoli), Perrig Quemeneur, Romain Sicard and Bjorn Thurau (all Europcar), Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano), Daniel Moreno and Eduard Vorganov (both Katusha), Phililp Deignan (Sky), Nicolas Roche and Ivan Rovny (both Tinkoff-Saxo).

BIG WINNER OF THE DAY: So soon after his career was in the balance, Mick Rogers rode to redemption in Savona with a gutsy break on the final descent.

BIG LOSER OF THE DAY: A complete tear of the left hamstring will mean Fabian Wegmann will face a long time on the sidelines. The German is Garmin's third rider to withdraw from the race - a tally 'beaten' only by Orica-GreenEdge who, following the overnight withdrawal of stage six winner Michael Matthews and that of injured Luke Durbridge, are now down to just five riders.

KEY MOMENT: The indecision amid the peloton going over the final summit was exploited by Mick Rogers, whose attack may have been a "spur of the moment" thing but it was certainly effective.

TALKING POINT: When BMC's Steve Morabito was among the numerous fallers in a crash 75km from the finish was pink jersey Cadel Evans right to ask Androni-Giocattoli to slow down as they led the chase on the escapees? Given BMC's tactics in stage six following a far worse crash, some might say that BMC and Evans had it coming.

COMING UP: Thursday marks the first real showdown between the GC favourites with an undulating 41.9km individual time trial through the famous Langhe Hills from Barbaresco to Barolo.

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