Despite being on antibiotics in the week before his Australian national time trial defence, Rohan Dennis proved to be the fastest on the 40.9km course as he finished 58 seconds ahead of Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) and 1:39 minutes ahead of Ben Dyball.
Early-starter Cam Wurf was the first man to occupy the hot seat as he crossed the line with a time of 55:13 minutes but that time would come up short against Dennis' 50:59 minutes. Brendan Canty, in his first race for Cannondale-Drapac, raced into the hot seat to drop Wurf to second before former champion Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott) became the third rider to become the virtual race winner. Durbridge then came through to move into first place but also found himself moving down a placing with Dennis proving impervious despite his ill lead in.
"I was a little bit nervous about today. This has been going well but the last week something’s have come unstuck so it was a bit of an unknown how I was going to go today and at the half way point I was pretty stressed with Durbridge three seconds up on me," Dennis said post-race having become the first man since Durbridge in 2012 and 2013 to win two times trials in a row.
"I knew I had an advantage with the aerodynamics into the headwind but you still don’t know how you are going to come back into the last ten if you are absolutely going to blow and I sort of did a bit to honest. I was sort of lucky everyone else was feeling the same."
After a 2016 season that will full of misfortune for Dennis, highlighted by a mechanical when riding into a time trial medal position at the Olympic Games, the 26-year-old is embarking on a new phase in his career that will see him target general classification. Despite less emphasis on time trialling in his training compared to previous years, a three kilogram lighter Dennis is hoping his good start to the new year is an omen for future success.
"Maybe I should just have bad luck before the races and I wouldn’t have it in the race. Last year didn’t go to plan with luck but you have those years and you have to take the good out of and keep preparing like I did," said Dennis. "The preparation for each race, I did well with that and did everything right so I have to take that and hope for less bad luck for the coming years of my career."
While Dennis delivered on his favourite status, former winner Durbridge was a somewhat surprise second place and explained he was content with his return to the time trial podium.
"I am quite happy. It definitely wasn’t the focus in January, I just wanted to do my aerobic stuff in the off-season and get ready for the classics," Durbridge said. "You never get to do one-day time trials so I my next one-day time trial might be the world championships so every chance you get to pull on the jersey is always good practice. I actually surprised myself, Rohan is head and shoulders above me for the moment but it has been a while since I have been up there and hopefully I can keep closing that gap and keep getting closer and closer to Rohan. Because when you’re close to Rohan you’re close to the worlds best."
For Dyball, himself a former U23 road race champion, the bronze was also a welcome for a strong off-season of training and sets his aim on Sunday's road race after showing his form against the clock.
"I was hoping that if I had a really good day I could get on the podium and to do it is actually unbelievable to be so close to some of the best time trialist in the world. It is amazing," Dyball said of his result.
With temperatures nudging into the high-30s, the black roads of Buninyong were feeling the heat as started to melt which saw a reduction in 30 metres of the course just before the turn around point. Luckily, no riders complained of similar sensations but sweat stains were a common sight as they crossed the finish line.
Former U23 champion against the clock Miles Scotson rounded out the top-five in his first race for BMC Racing with last year's bronze medallist Sean Lake (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness), Lachlan Norris (UnitedHealthcare), and Jacob Kauffmann (NSWIS Road Cycling) finishing top-ten with 22 riders completing the course.
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|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing||0:50:59|
|2||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-Scott||0:00:58|
|3||Ben Dyball (Aus)||0:01:39|
|4||Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-Scott||0:02:05|
|5||Miles Scotson (Aus) BMC Racing||0:02:29|
|6||Brendan Canty (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac||0:04:01|
|7||Sean Lake (Aus) IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness||0:04:07|
|8||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:04:14|
|9||Lachlan Norris (Aus) UnitedHealthcare||0:04:34|
|10||Jacob Kauffmann (Aus) NSWIS Road Cycling||0:04:38|
|11||Peter Milostic (Aus)||0:05:13|
|12||James Ogilvie (Aus)||0:07:01|
|13||Marcus Culey (Aus)||0:07:35|
|14||Samuel Burston (Aus) Mobius Future Racing||0:07:40|
|15||Jesse Coyle (Aus) Mobius Future Racing||0:08:58|
|16||Patrick Saccani-Williams (Aus) GDT||0:09:03|
|17||Paul Salisbury (Aus)||0:10:26|
|18||Brendan J Cole (Aus)||0:11:11|
|19||Nathan Wood (Aus)||0:11:28|
|20||Brodie Talbot (Aus)||0:11:31|
|21||Lachlan Glasspool (Aus) Olivers Racing||0:11:34|
|22||Andrew Wai (Aus)||0:22:41|
|DNF||Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Bradley Priest (Aus)|
|DNF||Nicholas Squillari (Aus)|
|DNS||Reece-Emerson Van Beek (Aus)|
|DNS||Cameron Roberts (Aus) GPM Stulz|