Credit: Cycling Australia / Con Chronis / Zac Williams
It was a second consecutive year for Rohan Dennis (Team INEOS) of finishing with the silver medal in the time trial at the Australian Road National Championships time trial, posting a time 17 seconds slower than winner Luke Durbridge.
It was a defeat in a time trial in an Olympic year but world champion Dennis was far from disheartened after the finish.
“Happy with the ride, the result could have been better,” said Dennis. “I did everything I went out there to do. I held the power I knew I could hold and in the end I was beaten by a better guy.
“Durbo is absolutely flying at the moment and I think with that ride he would have been at least top five at the worlds in Yorkshire. That ride hurt me more than Yorkshire to be honest.
Dennis moved to new squad Ineos after a combative season at Bahrain-Merida, complete with a mid-race break-up at the Tour de France. INEOS were out in force for Dennis at the time trial – often WorldTour teams leave lone riders to fend for themselves or rely on friends within the peloton to offer support – with DS Brett Lancaster there in support of the world champion.
“Really well. It’s honestly a breath of fresh air,” said Dennis of the new environment within INEOS. “Super professional and at the same time, super relaxed as well. They’re really doing anything to make sure I’m feeling at home and I appreciate everything with what they’ve been doing so far.”
The issues with Dennis and Bahrain-Merida seemed to reach a head around the provision of sub-standard time-trial kit and equipment by the team. In 2019 at nationals, Dennis talked of a disconnect between the wattage he put out and the result, but he was quick to praise the set-up with INEOS.
“Really happy,” said Dennis. “It’s the same set-up that I’ve had, wheelset, groupset, saddle… the only difference is really the frame. They’ve nailed my position.
“I’m really happy with the equipment that we’re using and we’re always going to push to get it better and better every time. We’re working on that from today.”
With the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, the nationals is normally regarded as an important selection race. It seems inconceivable that selectors would leave the reigning world champion out and so Dennis wasn’t perturbed by the lack of a win against a potential rival for the two-time trial spots available for the Australian men’s team.
“It’s a long season,” said Dennis. “At the moment I’m hitting the numbers I need to hit. I’ve hit the same numbers every year in January, in the end I think I’m in the right spot. I’m usually doing quite well when it comes into July and September with this sort of form in January.
“Having Durbo beat me today… that got him a gig last year in Yorkshire and it’s more than possible that he could be there (at the Tokyo Olympics) as well. Look, more the merrier. If he’s there and we can get more guys on the podium, I hope that I’m on the podium as well.”
Dennis will head to Tokyo with unfinished business, after a snapped time-trial bar during the Rio Games meant that the South Australian star lost all hope of a gold medal, having to settle for fifth in the end after a late bike change. He’ll head in as the presumptive favourite and has already conducted a reconnaissance of the route with the Australian Cycling Team.
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Written by Jamie Finch-Penninger