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"My goal was top five and to get that close …," Dennis recalled last World Championships. "It's a huge improvement on my behalf, or they have got a lot slower."

Photo: Sirotti




29.10.2014 @ 15:22 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Increasingly versatile, but still considered a time trial specialist more than anything else, Rohan Dennis ironically took his 2014 season’s sole victory in the Tour of California queen stage atop Mount Diablo. An undeniable progress made by the 24-year old Australian concerned not only his climbing abilities, though, but racing against the clock, as he performed with impressive consistency throughout the whole season to claim no less than five runner up spots and additional two third places in ITT’s.


And these result’s weren’t obtained in some second tier events but races like Criterium International, Circuit de la Sarthe, Tour de Romandie, Tour of California or Commonwealth Games, in which he was beaten by specialists like Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), Alex Dowsett (Movistar) twice, Michał Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick Step) and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) respectively.


"[When] Alex came through eight or nine seconds up, it was like someone had sucked every bit of happiness out of me," Dennis said about the Commonwealth Games. "But he was better than me on that day."


In addition to this, Dennis made a rare mid-season transfer which has to be called a switch for a winning team, as a brave move was rewarded with a victory in the World Championships team time trial event, with his large contribution for the BMC squad.


After BMC's team time trial victory, Dennis said, "I don't think I gave one bit of thought about the [five] seconds or [two] thirds I had got all year. It was great to get in the huddle … but there was also a relief I could have just sat there and smiled."


Departure from Garmin-Sharp also allowed him to participate in the Vuelta a Espania alongside Samuel Sanchez and experienced countryman Cadel Evans, the first three-week long event successfully finished by young Australian.


"I was a little bit nervous about making it the whole way," said Dennis whose goals were to claim his first finish in his second Grand Tour.


"My body didn't know what the hell to do," Dennis said about the first ITT in the event, which he finished disappointing 25th. "I was good for eight minutes, then struggling to do 300 watts … I would have done more in Under 17s."


"The first week was the hardest. In the third week I came good," he said.


"I was in the breaks. My confidence came back in my ability and I could believe I could help the team than I had been up to that stage."


If a victory atop Mount Diablo might have been his breakthrough performance as a future general classification contender in stage races, his ride against the clock in the World Championship individual time trial certainly proved his credentials as one of the best specialists in the discipline of his generation. The 24-year old Australian finished the event fifth, 57.4 seconds down on gold medalist Wiggins, but rode impressively in the first half of the difficult route being the only one able to keep up the pace of the Briton and defending champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick Step).


"My goal was top five and to get that close …," he said. "Last year I was [12th] at 3:09 and this year it was 57 seconds. It's a huge improvement on my behalf, or they have got a lot slower.


"Physiological maturity was a big factor. I was still holding my power to that [last] climb."


Claiming fifth spot in the event, the BMC rider lived up to is own expectations and was more than pleased with a progress he has made through the last twelve months. He also emphasized that even though Wiggins and Martin were still unattainable for the rest of the field, the passing season was a time of breakthrough performances of young time trial specialists who should come to the fore next year.


Saying this, he had in mind mainly his former team-mate Dumoulin, Taylor Phinney (BMC) and whole armada of young Australian riders, usually excellent against the clock after starting their careers in cycling on a track.


"He is a nice guy," Dennis told Cyclingnews of the Giant-Shimano rider who also beat him to win the time trial at the Criterium International this year.


"I am more than happy for him to be up there … but not in front of me from now on."


"It will come into play and also with Phinney. Once his [fractured] leg is 100 per cent he is going to be big factor. Tejay will also be good.


"There is Dowsett … Durbridge, Hepburn. They have had a bit of rough last year with time trials. 'Heppy' won at nationals and 'Durbo' got the title last year. But once 'Durbo' finds time trial form … he is not easy to beat. And I can't forget Flakemore."


After a whole year of strong, consistent performances in time trials no one should underestimate his chances to further improve on this results in the future, but the 23-year old Australian hopes to prove himself as a general classification contender for stage races.


"That's a big goal of mine, Dennis said. "Time trials are obviously a huge strength of mine, so there is no reason is should throw that out the window.


"I need to look at World and Olympic time trials to target and Grand Tour stages and overall general classification. It may or may not be possible. I will definitely try."




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