Rohan Dennis admitted that there was not a lot that he could do to beat Luke Durbridge in the elite men's time trial at the Australian national championships and that the Mitchelton-Scott rider was simply the better man on the day.
As a three-time defending champion and reigning world champion, Dennis was the overwhelming favourite to take the 2019 title. He was riding in the rainbow jersey decorated with the names of his new Bahrain-Merida team. However Durbridge took the title by 21 seconds, relegating Dennis off the top spot for the first time since Porte edged him out by seven seconds in 2015.
Losing to Durbridge, winner of the time trial title in 2012 and 2013, softened the blow and Dennis is happy that the gold and green will be represented in the peloton throughout the year.
“For me, it was a good ride, I was just beaten by a better guy on the day,” Dennis said afterwards. “Whoever wins is the best.
“It definitely helps to be beaten by a guy like Durbridge. He’s a good guy. If I can’t wear the jersey, it’s nice that it’s still going to be shown in Europe as well.”
Dennis' second place on Tuesday marked the first time since the Giro d’Italia prologue last May that he had been beaten in an individual time trial. Dennis has the solace of knowing he will be wearing the rainbow bands until at least this September, but he would like to know just what went wrong.
“Look, the legs are there. the power was good. As good as any other year, if not just a little bit better,” explained Dennis.
“So, it’s just about finding out why I didn’t go as quick now and fixing it for the next race. It’s all about trying to figure out how to go a little bit quicker with the equipment that I’ve got.”
The time trial was the first chance that Dennis had to show off his new rainbow stripes and with no time trials in his next two races, the Tour Down Under and the UAE Tour, he will have to wait until Tirreno-Adriatico in March to wear it again.