On his fourth attempt, Rohan Dennis can finally call himself a national time trial champion. Starting one minute ahead of defending champion Richie Porte, Dennis had the quickest time at the mid-way intermediate time check over his BMC teammate and increased his advantage on the return to claim the Australian title in a time of 51:13 minutes, 38 seconds ahead of Porte, and 1:34 minutes ahead of Sean Lake (Avanti).
Dennis was second in his first year of racing elite, was thrown from his bike when a mini-tornado struck in 2014 and collected another silver medal 12-months ago having started as the outright favourite.
"It's obviously always a dream to win Aussie nationals," Dennis said of his commanding victory. "I've won under 23 and now I have a senior medal and to be able to wear the green and gold in every time trial is a true honour. Obviously, Sunday's still to come and there is still a jersey so we can't celebrate tonight but we can have a small celebration and say 'job well done' for Thursday.
"[It's the] Monkey off the back now in seniors you could say now, it's a good day"
Dennis' Tour de France victory last July opened the floodgates for the 25-year-old who has started to turn near misses against the clock into victories. Last year Dennis had the quickest time at the half-way point but his pacing was off and a strong second half from Porte meant that Dennis missed the title by seven seconds. 2016 was a different story with Dennis building on his advantage from the intermediate point to ensure a comfortable victory with just Porte within 90 seconds of his time.
The two-time under 23 time trial champion credited his successful hour record attempt last February for helping him with pacing and remaining focused throughout the ride.
"If you take into account the weight, the power was higher today than last year but I paced it better and I didn't blow," said Dennis who posted a time of 51:57 last year on the same course. "It was me riding a smarter race. I rode quicker than last year but the wind was opposite so it's hard to gauge. If it was the same conditions as last year, I'd be able to tell you pretty exactly."
Dennis added that he has learned to start slow and gradually increase the watts to finish strong rather than arrive struggling in the red.
"Look at my hour record and the way I paced that compared to Jack," he said by way of comparison to Jack Bobridge's hour record attempt last January. "We probably averaged fairly similar average power but he went out and was in the red earlier and for longer. So this year I think I went out a lot easier and came home a lot stronger so it's a whole different feeling. You feel like you still have some energy at the finish, you're not 30 minutes in your absolute max, you try and hold back and finish strong."
For Porte, who was the only rider within one minute of Dennis, second place was a welcome reward in his first outing for BMC. He explained he was happy to finally make his debut with the team with his result an indicator of current form.
"It's more than what I expected to be honest," Porte said. "A bit more of a relaxed start to the year. I am happy to be on the podium to be honest, I am not surprised to see that Rohan's taken this win. He deserves it, he's hungry and I know how much he's wanted that national jersey."
"It's been a long time coming," he said of racing in the BMC kit. "When you announce in August, it kind of felt like an eternity waiting to put the colours on. I am really happy and it's a great team and I am looking forward to 2016."
The Avanti team continued its successful start to the championships with Lake claiming his first elite medal and suggesting the former rower will be a rider to watch in the coming 12 months. Lake, who caught the three riders who started ahead of him, was untroubled in the hot seat until Dennis and then Porte dropped him down the medals.
Orica-GreenEdge's sole entrant, Damien Howson came home in fourth place while Ben Dyball rounded out the top five. Last year's bronze medallist Bobridge was tenth in his Trek-Segafredo debut.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rohan Dennis (Sa)||0:51:13|
|2||Richie Porte (Tas)||0:00:38|
|3||Sean Lake (Vic)||0:01:34|
|4||Damien Howson (Aus)||0:01:51|
|5||Ben Dyball (Nsw)||0:01:56|
|6||Nick Bensley (Vic)||0:03:11|
|7||Matthew Clark (Vic)||0:03:19|
|8||Rhys Gillett (Vic)||0:03:55|
|9||Nicholas Squillari (Vic)||0:04:12|
|10||Jack Bobridge (Sa)||0:04:20|
|11||Brodie Talbot (Nsw)||0:04:25|
|12||Jonathan Clarke (Aus)||0:04:36|
|13||Timothy Roe (Sa)||0:04:38|
|14||Nathan Elliott (Vic)||0:05:07|
|15||Jordan Kerby (Qld)||0:05:15|
|16||Craig Evers (Nsw)||0:05:19|
|17||Matt Burton (Wa)||0:05:39|
|18||Jeremy Cameron (Vic)||0:05:40|
|19||Peter Milostic (Nsw)||0:05:48|
|20||Sam Gifford (Vic)||0:06:58|
|21||Timothy Beardall (Vic)||0:07:07|
|22||Bret Steiszkal (Vic)||0:07:27|
|23||Shaun O'Callaghan (Vic)||0:07:34|
|24||Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (Act)||0:08:45|
|25||Mark Fagg (Vic)||0:08:59|
|26||Gareth Barnes (Nsw)||0:09:09|
|27||Tim Guy (Nsw)||0:09:20|
|28||Jack Lindsay (Act)||0:12:00|
|29||Andrew Wai (Nsw)||0:19:57|
|30||Peter Dunlop (Qld)||0:20:22|
|DNS||Alexander Edmondson (Sa)|