Further to Cyclingnews' story in mid-October that Team Ineos were looking as though they were the most likely destination for time trial world champion Rohan Dennis, the Advertiser newspaper – based in Dennis' hometown of Adelaide, in South Australia – has reported on Monday that the 29-year-old will indeed join the British WorldTour team for 2020.
Dennis left the Bahrain-Merida team mid-way through the Tour de France, following alleged differences over the team's equipment and clothing options. Since then, he's been linked to a number of other WorldTour teams for next season, including CCC Team and Movistar, while new Bahrain-Merida team principal Rod Ellingworth – who himself left Team Ineos to take the helm of the Bahraini team at the start of October – admitted to British newspaper the Telegraph that he'd hoped to be able to hold on to Dennis.
However, since mid-October, Ineos have looked increasingly as though they'd be Dennis' final destination, coming off the back of his successful defence of the world title against the clock in Yorkshire, in the UK, in September.
As the Advertiser points out, it's unclear the exact role Dennis would assume at the British WorldTour outfit – which already boasts Tour de France winners Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, and has also taken on 2019 Giro d'Italia winner Richard Carapaz for 2020 – but Dennis has shown versatility in the past. Besides having emerged as the world's best rider against the clock, Dennis has won overall titles at stage races including the Tour Down Under and the USA Pro Challenge, and this season finished second overall at the Tour de Suisse.
His climbing abilities have improved markedly in the past few years since actioning his own 'four-year plan', starting from the Rio Olympics in 2016, to see what he might be able to achieve at Grand Tours beyond time trialling. Since then, having been disappointed not to finish a number of Grand Tours for varying reasons, Dennis has recorded a best finish of 16th overall at the 2018 Giro d'Italia, where he also won the stage 16 individual time trial.
That four-year plan 'runs out' at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where a hilly time-trial course could allow Dennis to find redemption for a cruel mechanical – a broken aero handlebar – that surely cost him a medal of some description at the 2016 Games.
The unorthodox route to his second TT world title this year – specific training over two full months, rather than any top-end racing at all, following his abandonment of the Tour in July – appears to have galvanised Dennis into thinking that riding a Grand Tour ahead of the Olympic time trial on July 29 next season may not be necessary.
"Any time I don't have the perfect preparation race-wise, it's given me the confidence of knowing that's not necessarily going to change the result," he told the Advertiser.
"Where people go, 'You have to do a Grand Tour,' or, 'You have to do this or that,' it is possible to win without it, which was a big question mark [before].
"So coming into Tokyo, it might not necessarily be the best idea that you have to do the Tour," he said. "Let's try to be more specific about it to get the best preparation for Tokyo, and maybe that's the best way."