Australian head coach Bradley McGee has told Cyclingnews that he has ‘no major concerns’ over Rohan Dennis ahead of the rider’s defence of his time trial title at the UCI Road World Championships.
Dennis is hoping to win back-to-back titles against the clock despite not racing on the road since his controversial decision to walk out of the Tour de France mid-race on the eve of the individual time trial.
The Australian provisionally had the Vuelta a Espana on his race schedule as part of his Worlds preparation but the fallout from his Tour abandon saw his trade team Bahrain Merida remove him from a provisional selection.
Over the past 10 weeks, Dennis has trained specifically for the time trial and McGee has backed his athlete at every step.
“I really had no major concerns,” McGee told Cyclingnews.
“There were concerns for his welfare of course and everyone involved. It’s never great, but in the Tour de France and the Vuelta, I watch our Aussies just to make sure that they’re surviving each day fit and healthy. The ability for our riders these days to train to an event is exceptional. If it was about training into a world championships road race without any racing it would be a bit different, but for a time trial and Rohan’s approach, I was never concerned.”
Although Dennis’ long-term future is unclear – the media were instructed that he would only take questions relating to the Worlds during his press conference – McGee emphasised that Dennis’ unique training preparation and lack of recent road racing miles could turn out to be a benefit in terms of these championships. Cycling Australia has also provided Dennis with non-trade team equipment for the World Championships with Dennis expected to race a BMC time trial bike in a move that breaks no rules under UCI regulations.
“We try to support our riders in their relationships with their teams, but it’s not essential,” McGee said concerning Dennis’ pre-Worlds race schedule.
“It’s just another layer that we can add. We let the riders support themselves and give them all the recourses at hand. I was never too concerned and the fact that he’s trained for almost 10 weeks is in some ways a benefit.”
“If he was in the Vuelta I would be a lot more stressed entirely and really concerned about those risks,, but that’s the game. We need to support and bear with it. That’s my role here, and the first question that I ask if everyone is fit and healthy. The bubble we try and create here for the national team is something we’re quite proud of and it’s about how we can support our individuals and bring them into the team environment. Athletes are individuals. You need to take the time to understand that and then facilitate them into the team environment."
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