Cyclingnews will be introducing some of the fresh faces in the WorldTour peloton for 2013 in a series of articles over the next month. Rohan Dennis signed for the Garmin-Sharp team in late 2012 after having shown his talent to the world stage at the Tour Down Under. The 22-year-old Australian won the Young Rider Classification before going on to win a number of races throughout the year. He captured silver in the team pursuit at the London Games and finished second in the individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Valkenburg.
Cyclingnews: How did your contract with Garmin-Sharp come about?
Rohan Dennis: It was around Tour Down Under time last year that got me in the spotlight. I think that was a big showing point that I could handle the WorldTour scene.
CN: Which races best showed your ability to ride at the WorldTour level?
RD: Apart from Tour Down Under, the Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt in Germany, just before the Olympics in June. I really targeted that [race] and came away win the overall win. Those two showed my potential the best.
CN: What got you started in bike racing?
RD: I used to be a swimmer and there is this program in Australia called the TIP [Talent Identification Program]. They come around to your school and do a heap of tests. They check your physiology to see what sport you would best suit you and they told me I could possibly be a good cyclist.
I thought I'd do it for a bit of fun and to add a bit of leg strength for swimming. Three months later I gave up swimming for cycling.
CN: Who was your sporting hero growing up? Were you into any other sports?
RD: Kieren Perkins. Coming from a swimming background I always strove to be a distance swimmer. Watching him at the Atlanta Games really inspired me to become a really good swimmer. Obviously that wasn't the road I went down but he's the one person I looked up to as a young athlete. I used to play soccer when I was young but that was for just a bit of fun.
CN: What's the number-one WorldTour race you want to compete in?
RD: The Tour de France is obviously the main goal, but for the immediate future it would be [Tour de] Suisse and Paris-Nice. They are the two I might be doing this year. I won't be riding a Grand Tour this year, next year is a possibility but it's still a big maybe.
CN: What was your reaction to the USADA/US Postal case - do you think it's going to have a big impact on the WorldTour?
RD: At first I thought it was the worst thing that could happen to our sport, all the Armstrong stuff coming out and people going after things that happened a long time ago. I thought I was pretty detrimental.
Now I see it as one of the best things that could have happened. The only thing I think could be improved is that everyone comes out - all within one week - everyone who ever doped. Instead of someone coming out every week or two weeks. Just get it all out and done with, clean slate and then we can have a fresh start.
It is good for us young guys. It's a sport that's improving, doping-wise it's becoming much cleaner and seems a lot fairer across the board. From what I've been told from a lot of guys is that it's very different to how it was in the late '90s and early 2000s.
CN: In terms of stepping up to the WorldTour, have you made any dramatic changes to training to prepare for the season?
RD: I've done a lot more base this year and given away the track. That was a big change for my preparation for this season. There's been a lot more time for road training and now it's more specialised towards that. Now I don't get that speed that comes through with track training which can be beneficial. Now I've had to compensate out on the road, doing ergo sessions and other things to make up for a little bit of that.
CN: Have you spoken to any friends or other guys in the pro peloton who have made a similar leap and asked them for any advice?
RD: I asked Dave Millar on training, 'this is going to sound a little cliché but what's some advice you can give me for this year?'. He said: 'whatever you do just stay as relaxed as possible and go with the flow. Don't get too uptight because things will change in the first year and it's going to be all over the shop'. It's all new so there's going to be plenty of learning.
CN: Where will you be based and will you be living with anyone throughout the season? Do you speak any other languages?
RD: I'll be based in Girona, near the team service course in Spain. It's jam-packed with professional riders, plenty of Europeans as well and I'll be living with my girlfriend. We'll live out of the city a little bit where it's a bit quieter.
I spent three year living in Italy so I can sort of understand it a little bit. It'll take a month or two for me to get into the swing of it again. That's the last thing I'm thinking about at the moment. I'm going to have my own effort to do it and not be to lazy after training so I can do a bit every now and then.
CN: Do you have a secret talent apart from cycling that people might not know about?
RD: (laughing) I like playing PlayStation. But I don't do a whole lot really; go riding, watch some TV, play PlayStation and just try and relax. I don't mind a few car games but I haven't played it too much lately because it actually blew-up. I think we played it too much. Been a few months since I've been on it. It is probably a good thing for me.