For Rohan Dennis (Garmin Sharp) the 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour is an opportunity to repay his teammates and play the domestique role for the week. Having told the team he was more than happy to do so after Wednesday's prologue, Dennis did his job to help secure the Stage 1 win and the yellow jersey for teammate Nathan Haas.
"My job this week just being a workhorse. I put my hand up after the prologue and pretty well before that I just said 'look, I'm here to help whoever is motivated to win.' Not that I'm not motivated for this race but it was never on my to-do list to target this race," Dennis told Cyclingnews.
The hot conditions on the road were exacerbated by the strong winds on the course during Stage 1 as Dennis explained, it made for a tough day at the office.
"Very windy, it was one the windiest days I've had on the bike. One second you're on 24,26 [km/h] into a headwind on the flat so it was pretty tough."
With a cat 1 climb to contend with on Stage 1, it was the day's main ascent that saw the race come alive. "I was right at the front and GreenEdge hit it right over the top. I was in the front group but I was just in the gutter and I turned right at the start of the second echelon and then that's when it hit the fan and it was two bunches from there.
"It was pretty rough over the top. The hill actually wasn't too hard, we just cruised up it but it was the cross wind section that really split it apart."
At the Australian road nationals Dennis was on his way to a potential medal winning ride in the time trial when a gust of wind swept him off the bike, derailing any chances of claiming gold in both the race against the clock and in the road race.
"I'm still climbing out of that little 'hole' you could call it but my body's coming good and yesterday I was felt strong but it was just a tough day all-round," he said.
"Today will be a good test for me and how my body actually is."
After his Australian stint racing down under, Dennis's next block of racing is back in the northern hemisphere. "I'll take a little break, not too long, so first race back in Europe is Criterium International that's the very end of March so I've got a fair bit of time between races."
As the defending champion of the Tour of Alberta, Dennis has the race penciled into his schedule but his appearance is yet to be made official. "[Defending Alberta] that's a goal. At the moment I'm not 100% sure that I'm going there but from what I saw earlier on in the season, I did see that I was going back there and hopefully my season works out the same as it did last year and I get stronger and stronger throughout the season."
When asked of what his season ambitions were this year, Dennis laughed and said, "2014? A new contract. That would be great." After his breakout 2013 season which included a stint in the leaders jersey at the Critérium du Dauphiné, another successful season looks likely for Dennis and with it, a new contract.