When Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) hit the deck at the 13-kilometre mark in the individual time trial at the Australian National Championships, months of hard work crashed with him. The 23-year-old found himself on the ground still in the tucked position and with hands still firmly planted on the aero bars after a rogue wind sideswiped the Adelaide native and ended his bid for a time trial national championship.
The injuries sustained in the crash left Dennis battered and bruised, and they were a deciding factor in his withdrawal on lap 12 of the men’s national road race four days later.
“It was just so out of the blue,” Dennis told Cyclingnews. “I was very disappointed. I was in a very good position to take that gold and knew I had the form to make that happen. After something like that you start questioning ‘Why me?’”
Dennis believes in hindsight that perhaps the best option following the fall would have been to withdraw from the road race completely to focus on recovery and the start of the 2014 season.
“In retrospect I should have pulled out before the race,” he said. “I was feeling really good for the first three or four laps, but from then it was pretty much downhill. I was doing my body more harm than good and my body said ‘no more’ so I called it quits.
“There is no reward for the hardest person out here, and finishing with no skin,” he continued. “So I decided to pack it up, go home and try to recover for the TDU.”
Now more than a week since the crash and still showing the signs of the fall, Dennis is slowly putting the mental anguish behind him. With the physical pain subsiding, he is quietly taking aim at the Tour Down Under’s general classification.
“I think the teams will be still wary of me,” said Dennis, who grabbed international headlines after taking the young rider classification and eighth overall at the Criterium du Dauphiné in 2013. “Teams will sort of see how I’m going after having the big crash at Nationals. I think they may just keep an eye on me and not let me do anything, and if do decide to do something, they will know my legs are good. So I have to weigh the risks over the rewards, but I will pick my opportunity and you can count on that.”