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Rohan Dennis: Things are starting to click in time trials again

Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) steps onto the Tour de Romandie podium after winning the prologue
Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) steps onto the Tour de Romandie podium after winning the prologue (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Rohan Dennis led an Ineos Grenadiers sweep of the prologue in the Tour de Romandie on Tuesday, beating teammates Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte in the four-kilometre individual time trial. 

He also showed that his transition from a dismal 2019 season with Bahrain Merida - one which saw him unceremoniously climb off his bike during the Tour de France and make a mid-contract switch to the British WorldTeam - has been a success, beating even world champion and teammate Filippo Ganna.

"I take a lot of confidence out of not just this time trial but the last one that I won and things are starting to really click for me on the TT bike again, which is always a nice thing when it's been a bit of a dry spell, to be honest with you," Dennis said in the post-race press conference.

Dennis has won multiple time trials every year since 2015, when he claimed his first Tour de France stage and wore the maillot jaune - his peak came in 2018 when he was on top of the world with the Australian and World Championship titles and three Grand Tour stages. But after the BMC Racing Team ended that year, Dennis struggled to get back to that level.

Now, with the Tour de Romandie prologue and a victory in the Volta a Catalunya time trial already in the bag this season, he's equalled Ganna in terms of time trial victories but played down any inter-team contest.

"Obviously it's a rivalry but we're also both quite happy for each other to win, obviously being teammates is not always about the individual, it's about who's going to win as a team," Dennis said. "As long as our team has the win that's all that matters for our sponsors. I'm sure he's as happy for me as I was for him - as odd as that sounds - when he beat me in Imola last year."

The performance of the team - and four riders in the top 10 of the Tour de Romandie standings, with Ganna in ninth - bodes well for the rest of the six-stage WorldTour race, Dennis says.

"A 1-2-3 with myself, Geraint Thomas and Richie puts a bit of pressure on us for the rest of the week but it's also a good sign for the rest of the week that we have two guys for GC who are in very good shape and myself as a bit of a wildcard - that's only if the weather is average," Dennis said, adding that his role will be as one of the last helpers in the mountains.

Last season, Dennis showed that he can be an important domestique in the mountains when he decimated the field on the Passo dello Stelvio on stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia for eventual winner Tao Geoghegan Hart and again on the climb to Sestrieres on stage 20 in a performance team principal David Brailsford called "a revelation" brought on by improved morale.

Dennis plans for his role to be largely the same at the Tour de Romandie unless conditions deteriorate and the racing on the climb to Thyon 2000 on Saturday neutralised.

"The only time my role will change is if the weather is so bad come the big mountain stages that I can stay in contention and play it out on the final day in the time trial. I don't think that's going to happen," Dennis said after the prologue win.

The undulating course in Oron played into Dennis' strength with a power-climb of 6.5 per cent in the final kilometre.

"I needed to stay within contention of the more powerful guys like [Stefan] Bissegger and Ganna. I needed to go out hard and hope I had a little more and I didn't lose any time on the flatter section before the climb. In theory I should be able to climb quicker than them and that's where I sort of backed myself - to stay in contention on the flat and then try to win on the climb," he said.

The victory was a boon for Ineos but also for Dennis and his ambitions of leading the Australian team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo at the end of July - if the Games happen, that is. "That's the biggest ambition for me when it comes to time trials this year."

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