On February 8, Rohan Dennis (BMC) will attempt the break the Hour Record. Whether it is the 51.852km record set by Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling) in October or one set by Jack Bobridge (BudgetForklifts) on January 31 in Melbourne, Dennis's silver medal at the Australian national time trial was an important measure of his preparation. On the out-and-back 40.9km course, Dennis had the fastest time at the half-way point with a seven second advantage over Richie Porte (Team Sky) which became a seven second deficit by the time he crossed the line.
"I think I probably went out a little too hard," Dennis told reporters after the race. "From my calculations at the half way point, I was pretty sure that I was up on Richie and he obviously came home a lot harder than I did. I have a little work to do on the pacing side of the things. My power over the climb was good, it was just in between the climbs on the way back."
Dennis explained that while it was another second place finish to add to his palmares, the result will give him confidence of his hour record attempt.
"It is disappointing again to get second but for someone of Richie's talent to beat me, and once again it was quiet close, I can somewhat hold me head high," he said. "It is getting closer and closer to when I will finally crack the top podiums but I think I have to be a bit patient and take it as a positive for early-next month. Obviously I have good form I just need a little fine tuning."
The lumpy course was one considered to suit the characteristics of Dennis and as a result he started the race as a favourite to claim victory. The 24-year-old explained that he felt confident of ending a run of near misses and winning a first elite national title to add to his U23 wins.
"I think I was probably more confident today [then the Worlds when Dennis was fifth] and I probably expected a bit more myself up until half-way," he said. I had [minute man] Mick Rogers insight pretty quick and I think I tried to chase him down too quick and that put me into the red too soon and I lost it in the last half. At Worlds, I went by my own pace and I didn't have a radio so I didn't know where I was and I didn't see anyone the whole time I was out there. I just followed my own power the whole time, riding my own race."
Pacing will be key to Dennis' attempt of breaking the hour record and having gone out hard to fade in the return, the time trial proved to be a reminder of staying clam and patient to convert podiums into wins.
"I did already know, but you can get a little excited and get caught in the moment," Dennis said on the importance of pacing. "It's about controlling it and I think that's my biggest downfall at the moment when time trialling and it will probably come with age being a little bit more patient. The power is there but pacing is probably is the main thing I need to work on over the next couple years to improve upon my results and finally get onto that top step."
Concentration is another key factor for Dennis who is yet to decide precisely on how he'll break down the hour into sections and deal with the repetition of lap after lap around the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen.
"It's going to be mind numbing for sure doing approximately 200 plus laps of a 250 track is going to be close as a mental institute as possible. But it's going to be a case of finding something to take my mind off it and break it up into sections over the hour rather than doing a whole sixty minutes. I have four 15 minutes of two 30-minutes or what not. I still have to decide on a strategy on that and I am working with my coach on that and BMC on that as well.
Hour Record attempt
With the hour record currently enjoying a renaissance since the UCI rule change, Dennis will be the fourth high profile rider to make an attempt since Jens Voigt successfully kicked off proceedings in September. Bradley Wiggins has confirmed he attempt the hour record this June in London while Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara and Taylor Phinney are yet announce any definitive plans but have expressed interest in doing so.
Dennis' former national track teammate and bronze medallist in the national time trial, Jack Bobridge will make his attempt one week beforehand which will be further motivation for the BMC rider.
"It can actually be a benefit for myself," he said of Bobridge's hour record attempt. "Look he's going to set a good time to beat and we've always been rivals on the track and road throughout the career and up to this date as well. It's always been the rivalry to be the best guy on the team and he'll set a very high benchmark and hopefully that will spur me on as well.
"It will be another test of my patience to not try and take him from lap one and beat his speed but to be patient and come home stronger than him rather than going out strong and dying off toward the end."
When asked if the likes of Wiggins going for the record was also going to spur him on, Dennis said "I can only go as fast as I can."
Dennis highlighted the multi track world champion and Olympic gold medallist as a challenger to the distance that he will set but Dennis is confident of setting the bar high enough to challenge the 2012 Tour de France champion.
"The key for guys like Jack, Alex Dowsett and myself,as well all going within a month, is to try to set a record to put Wiggins in a position where he has to go out harder than what he may want to or may shock him by the pace that we set. People do talk about us going before him and saying that we've trying to get in before him but there's no reason why we can't go faster.
"It's not impossible to beat someone who's as good as him."