Rohan Dennis came out on top at the Team Ineos eRace Classic, continuing his virtual race domination during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Australian had a tougher time of it than he did at the Alpe du Zwift and Digital Swiss 5 though, just about managing to hold off a chase group on the final lap of the race.
British champion Ben Swift, Dennis' teammate in one of the six Ineos mini-teams, sprinted to second place at 3.39 seconds, while Dylan Van Baarle rounded out the podium, 4.36 seconds down.
The Team Ineos eRace Classic was held on four laps on much of the Yorkshire Worlds course in Harrogate, with two climbs on the circuit and 43.4km of racing to tackle.
The first lap saw a big move go away as the double world time trial champion Dennis powered away from the peloton of Ineos men. Fellow TT specialist Jonathan Castroviejo jumped onto the Australian's wheel, as Swift mounted a chase behind.
The Spaniard managed to stay in touch with Dennis, though Swift couldn't quite get across. The time trialing duo built up a solid lead on the virtual Harrogate course, taking a 1:30 advantage by the midway point.
"It's not easy. I was hurting from lap 2 but I was looking at the time gap and I thought Jonathan was playing a bit, so I opened it up. He wasn't, so I end up having to do the race solo which absolutely killed me towards the end," Dennis said after the race.
"I was hoping they wouldn't catch me, but with Swifty it was a one-two for us, Team 4, so even if he did catch me it was a win for us, so I was keeping an eye on it and pushing. If it was someone else, I probably would've found another gear, but I was completely wrecked at the end."
Despite the efforts of a cadre of other Ineos stars like Michał Kwiatkowski and Pavel Sivakov, the pair's gap only increased as they pushed big watts – over 5w/kg on the flat – and made it two minutes at the 27-minute mark.
Further back, a 12-man group formed as the pace upped, with Van Baarle, Sivakov, Kwiatkowski and Chris Froome among the notable names making the cut. They made headway into the big time gap, pulling it back to 1:40 as the penultimate lap started.
Froome, Sivakov and Eddie Dunbar made a move on the hill, with the Russian leading the charge as the gap fell to 1:20. Dennis, meanwhile, had left Castroviejo behind up front, putting 20 seconds into the Spaniard on the incline. Castroviejo quickly reined in his effort, dropping back to the chase group soon after losing contact.
Sivakov and Dunbar put in a massive 8w/kg on a short, steep incline with 15km to go, passing Castroviejo and leaving the chasers behind to get within 1:10 of Dennis. Then, inside the final 10km, Kwiatkowski, Van Baarle and Swift made it a five-man chase group, as Dennis' advantage fell to 45 seconds.
Inside the final five kilometres, the group had made it to within 20 seconds of Dennis. Van Baarle, Sivakov and Swift got a gap on the final climb of the race, 3km from the finish, but despite a slim lead, Dennis' victory was secure on the final flat run-in.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rohan Dennis (Aus) Team Ineos||1:03:54|
|2||Ben Swift (GBr) Team Ineos||0:00:03|
|3||Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Team Ineos||0:00:04|
|4||Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Ineos||0:00:06|
|5||Edward Dunbar (Irl) Team Ineos||0:00:12|
|6||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Ineos||0:00:13|
|7||Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Team Ineos||0:00:25|
|8||Christian Knees (Ger) Team Ineos||0:00:36|
|9||Michal Golas (Pol) Team Ineos||0:00:38|
|10||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos||0:00:39|
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