Against the clock, Rohan Dennis has had his fair share of second places in the last 12 months including the silver medal at the Australian national championships. After his attack in Paracombe to claim the second stage of the Tour Down Under today and with it the overall lead, Dennis claimed only his second victory since winning atop Mount Diablo at the Tour of California last May and opened his 2015 account with BMC Racing Team.
"My only win last year, beside the worlds team time trial, was a road race in America," Dennis told reporters after the stage. "So maybe I need to move away from time trials and do more time trialling. In saying that, my time trialling helped me today to get into that mode of thinking about a threshold and attacking with a turn of speed."
With BMC a man down after losing Campbell Flakemore to a broken collarbone on the ride back to the hotel after stage two, the team led the peloton into the crucial right hand bend that took the riders up to the finish line. Michael Schär and Peter Stetina had worked to place Cadel Evans at the front of the main bunch and it was the team leader who looked to be best positioned with Dennis caught behind.
"I started the climb pretty close to last wheel," he said. "I thought maybe I'd be in contention for top ten but my legs sort of took over. It was a hundred metres at a time and just follow, follow, follow and do what Cadel said; attack."
With Evans, Richie Porte (Team Sky), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) riding off the front of the slimmed peloton, a second group on the road took advantage of the cat and mouse games and it was Dennis who burst through in the left hand side of the road.
"The plan was for me to attack at the bottom of the climb to put pressure on Richie and a couple of the main contentedness and for Cadel to follow them," Dennis told reporters after the stage. "Unfortunately I was a bit soft, from Lobethal on I was a little too nervous in the bunch and I thought I'd sit back in the bunch and not come down in any close calls or anything."
With BMC now occupying the top-two places on GC with Dennis leading Evans by three seconds, what approach they take for the remainder of the race is unknown as Dennis explained.
"That is a question that I actually don't know," he said of team's GC approach. "Obviously we are both protected riders and Cadel, in my eyes is the protected rider. I just had slightly better legs than him in the finish, he still had just as good as legs as I did but I just made that jump over the top and he's not going to chase me down is a perk of having such a good rider as my teammate."
The last time Dennis held a leader's jersey in a race was the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné where he finished eighth overall, winning the young rider classification. With the 24-year-old aiming to continue his development as a GC rider, Dennis explained his result today meant that he has already achieved two of his goals for the season.
"It's an absolute dream come true," Dennis said of wearing the leader's jersey. "To be in a leader's jersey at a WorldTour race is one of my goals this year and a stage win was also one of my goals. From tomorrow, we have to try to hold it [the jersey] for the rest of the week."