Defending Tour Down Under champion Rohan Dennis will return to Adelaide next month to co-lead BMC Racing alongside fellow Australian Richie Porte with overall victory the number one objective for the American team as general manager Jim Ochowicz explained.
"We go in with the defending champion, Rohan Dennis, so we are going to be focused on the race from day one," said Ochowicz. "We have two goals for the race. The first is to defend the title and the other is to see how Richie can come in as he was second last year. It's also the first WorldTour event for the season so a good performance in Adelaide will give us a good start for 2016."
Dennis won stage 3 on his way to claiming overall success in 2015 with teammate Cadel Evans rounding out the podium in third place. While Evans has since retired, the team have announced a strong squad to ensure a second straight overall win and sports director Allan Peiper believes the riders will be ready for the January 19-24 race.
"The expectation from the public and the cycling world will be high. That puts a bit of pressure on us but we’re coming with a good team to support those two riders (Dennis & Porte). The most critical stages for Richie and Rohan will be the two climbing stages, with Corkscrew Hill and Willunga Hill in there," Peiper said.
12-months ago Dennis was preparing for an attempt at the Hour Record, which he successfully set in February, but will approach the race differently in 2016 as he explained with the Rio Olympic Games time trial a target.
"My goals have changed for the season compared to 2015," Dennis said. "I think the best way to go into it is thinking about Rio and later on in the season, and see what happens. We’ve got a really strong team and it will be good to have myself there as well as Richie."
Having won the Willunga Hill queen stage of the race for the last two years, Porte is aiming for a third straight win to start his BMC career in style.
"To start with the Tour Down Under is the best possible way to start. Having won the past two years on Willunga Hill, why not go for the trifecta? With Rohan and I there I think we're going to have a great team, so I'm really looking forward to taking on a challenging race," said Porte.
The Australian duo will first be up against each other at the national time trial on January 8 with Porte defending his green and gold jersey and Dennis aiming to claim his first elite title following several seasons of misfortune which included him being blown off his bike in 2014.
BMC Racing Team for the 2016 Tour Down Under: Marcus Burghardt, Alessandro De Marchi, Rohan Dennis, Floris Gerts, Richie Porte, Danillo Wyss and Peter Velits.
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