In hindsight, it can hardly be deemed a surprise that a man who began his season with a national title win on January 7 might find himself running on fumes by the time the UCI Road World Championships rolled around in mid-October.
Rohan Dennis (Australia), buoyed a fine run of Autumn results, lined out among the top echelon of favourites for the elite men's time trial on Wednesday, but shortly after leaving the start house in Lusail, he realised that the rainbow jersey would be beyond his reach on this occasion.
Nonetheless, Dennis stuck gamely to his task on the 40-kilometre circuit, and rallied to post the fourth quickest time at the second intermediate check, before dropping back to sixth place at the finish, 1:27 down on Tony Martin (Germany), who won the world title for the fourth time.
"To be honest, I was good for probably six minutes. I could hold my power probably really until the end of the first circuit but once I got onto the main road, I was done," Dennis told Cyclingnews in the mixed zone afterwards. "I think it just wasn't my day. I think maybe my last bit of energy was used in the team time trial.
"Whatever pace you set at the start you had that to the finish. There was the risk of going out too hard. But I think 95 per cent of us blew a little bit in the second and half and whoever didn't was going to win and that was Tony."
Dennis was among the strongest performers for BMC as they placed second in the team time trial, but he was unable to replicate the same kind of power output here. That was a consequence, he felt, of the accumulated fatigue of a long season rather than the residual effects of Sunday's effort.
"To be honest I felt really good on Monday, yesterday I felt OK, but I was average today. I held 30 watts less than what I did in the team time trial on Sunday and it was only three minutes longer really, so I think it's a good time to call it quits for the season," Dennis said.
Dennis' balance sheet for 2016 shows a season where the final returns did not quite tally with his investment, but the 26-year-old's continued progression should pay a sizeable dividend in the longer term.
Illness hampered the early part of Dennis' year, when he was forced out of Paris-Nice and only managed three days of racing in total in February and March, while ill fortune afflicted him the Olympic Games. A snapped handlebar cost him what seemed a certain silver medal – or more – in the time trial, and he had to settle for fifth place.
For good measure, he crashed out on the final day of the Eneco Tour while wearing the leader's jersey. And yet amid those slings and arrows, Dennis still managed to put together a decent portfolio, over the course of the year.
"Other than bad luck, I think everything's gone pretty well. I only raced three days before California, and I got second there. I was a domestique at the Dauphiné and the Tour and I got 5th in the time trial after working every day. Then the Olympics, obviously the mechanical ruined that," Dennis said.
"At the Tour of Britain and Eneco, I was flying, really. The only thing I didn't do was probably time Worlds to perfection. I think if Worlds had been in September like normal, when Eneco was, I would have been a lot better, but I just overcooked it a little bit too early."
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