Rohan Dennis will get a true measure of his development as a general classification rider for the big tours next week when he takes the reins of BMC Racing at the Tour of the Alps, a hilly five-day race that ascends the mountains along the Italian-Austrian border.
The 2.HC race, formerly named the Giro del Trentino, starts Monday in Kufstein with a lumpy opener followed by another undulating second stage. Three climber-friendly mountain stages follow, ending with the fearsome Monte Bondone climb to close out the fifth and final stage on April 21.
Dennis will face challenges from Team Sky's Mikel Landa, winner of the 2016 Giro del Trentino, FDJ's Thibaut Pinot and AG2R La Mondiale's Domenico Pozzovivo, who won the race in 2012 and has scored a third of his career victories there. Cannondale-Drapac has a three-pronged threat in Pierre Rolland, Davide Formolo and Joe Dombrowski.
Following his second place overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, Dennis, 26, is hoping to prove his consistency in the big mountains, strengthening his credentials as a GC rider and bolstering his ambitions at the upcoming Giro d'Italia in May, where he'll likely share BMC leadership duties with American Tejay van Garderen.
"I am coming into Tour of the Alps with the Giro d'Italia at the front of my mind," Dennis said. "I have been working hard following Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, so I'm looking forward to testing myself here."
Dennis has three team time trial wins with BMC so far this year and took individual victories at the Australian time trial championships in January and the overall at Tour La Provence. He finished second to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at Tirenno but then had to quit Catalunya during stage because of illness.
"Tour of the Alps will be part of my final preparation ahead of May," Dennis said. "My main priority will be to test myself throughout the race, and whatever happens on the general classification happens.”
BMC will also have Damiano Caruso to hunt stage wins and a general classification result at the Tour of the Alps, said director Max Sciandri, while Brent Bookwalter, neo-pro Kilian Frankiny and Italian Manuel Senni could also get thrown into the mix as the team hunts stage wins.
“Tour of the Alps is a tough race with around 3,000 metres of climbing on the so-called easier days, and then 4,000 metres on the final stage to Trento," Sciandri said. "It will be a demanding race with five full-on stages, so we will be taking every day as it comes and looking for opportunities as they arise.”
BMC Racing for Tour of the Alps: Tom Bohli, Brent Bookwalter, Damiano Caruso, Rohan Dennis, Kilian Frankiny, Joseph Rosskopf, Miles Scotson, Manuel Senni