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Rogers leaves Sky for two-year deal with Saxo-Tinkoff

Former Amgen Tour winner goes to Danish squad after helping Bradley Wiggins win yellow

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Michael Rogers has signed with Saxo-Tinkoff, leaving Sky after playing a key role in Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory in July.

“I think Michael’s palmarès pretty much speaks for itself. He is without a doubt a world-class rider, a very strong time trialist, who is also capable of climbing, and on top of that he is a great guy,” said Saxo manager Bjarne Riis in a statement. “Surely he will add strength to our team throughout the season, and I believe he will be a very important rider for us, both when it comes to helping Alberto [Contador] in grand tours and to secure results on his own.”

Rogers is a late addition to the Danish squad, which is awaiting notification by December 10 of whether it will own a WorldTour license in 2013. Roman Kreuziger, Nicolas Roche, Matti Breschel, Oliver Zaugg, Rory Sutherland and Timmy Duggan are among the team’s new signings.

Rogers’ contract locks him up through 2014.

“I’m very excited to be joining an extremely strong and experienced squad at Team Saxo-Tinkoff for the coming seasons,” he said. “I feel I can have a positive effect particularly during stage races ranging from just a few days right through to the Grand Tours. I certainly look forward to the many new challenges that lay ahead.”

Rogers was one of three key super domestiques — along with Chris Froome and Richie Porte — to help Wiggins in the high mountains at the Tour. The four Sky riders rode roughshod over the field, smothering any chance for the Brit’s rivals to attack.

Earlier this fall, Sky announced a new zero-tolerance doping policy, which required all riders and staff to sign a pledge that they had never taken or been otherwise involved with performance enhancing drugs. Directors Steven De Jongh and Sean Yates departed shortly after the announcement, though the latter denied that his resignation was related to the PED policy. American race coach Bobby Julich also resigned, admitting to using EPO between 1996 and 1998.

Rogers’ Sky contract was set to expire at the end of 2012 and Cycling Weekly reported on Thursday that his departure was not directly related to the team drugs policy. Rogers has admitted to working with banned doctor Michele Ferrari in 2005 and 2006 (when he finished ninth at the Tour), but has denied using performance enhancing drugs, telling the Sydney Morning Herald, “He has made some mistakes, and I think he has learnt from them. But with me, he never mentioned anything of that [drugs]. It was just hard work and training.”

It is unclear what, if any, impact the late Rogers signing will have on the UCI License Commission’s sporting evaluation of the team. Riis has scrambled this fall to build a roster rich in UCI points in order to secure a valuable WorldTour license — and its associated guarantee of being invited to each of the sport’s biggest races. Riders like Kreuziger, Sutherland and Duggan have added valuable points to the team’s profile. Alberto Contador’s Vuelta a España win does not officially count on the books due to a UCI rule negating points for riders in the two-year period following a doping ban. The UCI has confirmed that it will make the full WorldTour roster known by Monday.