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Rogers targets Aussie national road race

Michael Rogers’ trophy case is full of hardware from time trials. Now the Aussie pro wants to place a national road title on his mantel.

The Columbia-HTC rider has made winning the Australian national road race on January 10 as his first major season goal for 2010.

He’s so keen for the national title jersey that he’s passing on defending his national time trial title to focus solely on the road race. Joining him will be Columbia-HTC teammates Matt Goss and Leigh Howard.

“It’s a very tough course, not overly long but long enough, and although there’s just the one climb, we do it 16 times and it’s usually very hot, too. It’ll be a race of attrition,” Rogers said in a team release. “For the Australian amateurs, the nationals are their last event of the season and they’re all in great shape, so it’s very hard to control. And of course, if they beat the professionals they get a lot of bragging rights! But with the team we’ve got there, we’ve certainly got the force and talent to achieve a good result.”

Rogers came close last year, taking second place after winning the national time trial title.

The results were a boon for Rogers, who suffered through an illness-plagued 2008 campaign. He later posted top 10s in the Tour Down Under, the Tour of California and the Giro d’Italia to confirm he’s back in top shape.

“I did about 100 days racing in 2009, both the Giro and the Tour, so I stopped straight after the world championships, had a good long rest, and then got into training for 2010,” Rogers said. “I’ve worked really well. I’m three kilos lighter than I was this time last year, and I’ve built up some very good endurance. Hopefully it will be a hard race, because that will suit me better.”

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