Dennis: My big goal this year is Rio
Last year of time trial focus for newly crowned national champion
Rohan Dennis put in a commanding performance in the Australian national time trial championships on Thursday afternoon to claim what had previously been an elusive green and gold jersey.
Post-race, Dennis told reporters that 2016 will be the final year he focuses exclusively on time trialling before switching focus to riding GC in Grand Tours. Before he makes the change though, Dennis is hungry for the Rio Olympics gold medal against the clock and a strong performance at the Doha Worlds in October.
"Rio, that's my big goal this year. Then there's the Qatar World time trial as well and really I am looking to turning more to the GC side of things after Rio so I have one more year of pure time trial then I'd like to take the route that Wiggo did," Dennis said of his next career objective and how Bradley Wiggins will serve as the example to follow.
There was no denying that Dennis was revelling in his first elite time trial title but the 25-year-old was also keeping it in perspective, considering that it was only in July he set the fastest ever time in a Tour de France time trial to also snare the first yellow jersey of the race.
"The Tour de France is the ultimate unfortunately," he said of which jersey meant more. "This is a great honour to wear green and gold, I wish I could take yellow in the green and gold, but the Tour de France was huge for me. It was my first professional win in a time trial and yellow jersey at the biggest race in the season is a bit hard to top really."
The next goals
Dennis' 2015 season was his best yet in the WorldTour ranks with overall victory at the Tour Down Under and US Pro Challenge offering further confirmation of his stage racing ability. Finishing his first Tour de France was another milestone, as was breaking the UCI Hour Record in February and helping BMC to the world team time trial championship gold medal in September.
The newly crowned national champion proved he can set numerous goals across a season, deliver and then move onto the next objective. Dennis and Porte will line up in Sunday's 183km road race looking to make it two-from-two for BMC but having only raced 40km in season 2016, he's a little unsure just what form and condition he will start the race in.
"Actually I am carrying an extra kilo compared to last year, which I was stressing about last year," he said, adding he is looking to drop three kilograms in total from his current slender frame. "I was thinking it actually is quite a lumpy course and my form is good but it is only a time trial. It's not 180km or a six-day tour, there is still a lot to come in January and I am still not content with what I've done."
Defence of his Tour Down Under crown and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race complete his January racing programme after which Dennis will head to Europe and prepare for the Rio Games. In 12-months time, Dennis could be heading to Europe with a tilt at a Grand Tour podium his season objective.
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